Monday, June 09, 2008


Turistas (John Stockwell, 2006) [2]
Granted I haven’t seen many of the films of this so-called ‘torture porn’ genre or the likes of the American rubes abroad genre a la Hostel, but I can get the general idea. Usually, I have no inclination of seeing anything of this sort, but it’s strange what boredom and borderline depression will cause you to watch on a given morning.

Turistas is one of the most insulting films I’ve ever seen. I don’t care to hear arguments that this isn’t supposed to be a representation of reality or that it’s just another form of exploitation cinema; that doesn’t excuse it from being a stupid film dealing in stupid stereotypes. A group of Euro/American tourists (you know, from the civilized countries) end up stranded in the Brazilian jungle after their bus crashes. Instead of being good citizens, they head to the nearest beach and act like drunken jackasses, only to be robbed blind by the locals. They (no one in this group is worth pointing out individually) end up following one local to a home only to be unwitting participants to a mad doctor harvesting their organs. The doctor’s rationale for this is that he’s taking revenge on these pampered First-Worlders and giving something to the Third World. I’m not one of these America First conservatives so I don’t have an issue with the ideas present in this situation. I’m insulted because the whole premise is incredibly stereotypical and completely lacks creativity. By creating a horror film that preys on the fears of Americans, that if they go overseas, there are a bunch of supposedly unscrupulous locals ready to take advantage of you, whether it be ripping you off for shitty souvenirs or by drugging you and stealing your organs, is insulting to both the audience and the “others” they’re taking advantage of for a story. It makes no difference that this is an exaggeration of supposed urban legends or not meant to be taken seriously; it’s insulting to me as a filmgoer in general. This may be the snob in me speaking, but I expect something better in cinema. If you’re going to use insipid Third World stereotypes to set up a lame story where the only thing saving you is Olivia Wilde in a bikini, then it’s not worth it.

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