Monday, November 27, 2023

Yankee, Go Home

Film: Turistas
Format: Streaming video from Tubi on Fire!

Horror movies tend to reflect the fears of a nation at the time. It’s why there are trends in horror where it seems like movies with similar themes come out within the same years or group of years. Post 9/11, we got a lot of movies that were extremely xenophobic. The poster child for these was definitely Hostel, but there were plenty of imitators that followed. Movies like The Ruins jumped on the bandwagon of “bad stuff happens outside of the U.S.” Others, like the reprehensible Live Animals focused on people being kidnapped and put in cages for sport. None really went for the full pseudo-remake of Hostel like Turistas did, though. Sure, the action is moved to Brazil instead of post-Communist Eastern Europe, and we’re dealing with organ trafficking instead of sport torture, but the politics are very similar.

What I mean by that is that Turistas, purporting to be a movie about young people in danger, is very much a movie that revels in its xenophobia. The central message of the film is that foreign places are dangerous places. We can trust the people who speak English natively—the guy from the UK is fine, after all, but the people who come across as “foreign” (even though the film takes place in their country) are a danger to everyone around them.

So into this “people who don’t speak English are untrustworthy” world we are going to be putting our main characters. These start with Alex (Josh Duhamel), his sister Bea (Olivia Wilde), and their friend Amy (Beau Garrett). On a bus in Brazil that goes over a cliff, they meet Pru (Melissa George), Finn (Desmond Askew), and Liam (Max Brown). They find themselves stranded when their bus takes a tumble (everyone gets out), so they spend the night partying with some locals.

However, we can’t have our tourists trusting people, so we’re going to have them all wake up on the beach having been robbed of everything they own—wallets, luggage, jewelry, phones. The one person from the previous night who seems to not be opportunistic is Kiko (Agles Steib), who is working on his English. He takes our six little lambs under his wing, but gets injured diving into a natural pool. Everyone takes him to a nearby house, which is owned by Kiko’s uncle Zamora (Miguel Lunardi).

So where is the conflict going to happen? It turns out that Zamora likes to kidnap tourists and kill them by harvesting their organs, which will be used in Brazilian hospitals for rich foreign clients who don’t want to sit on a 7-year waiting list for a new kidney. We get to see this in action as Zamora harvests the organs from Amy essentially without anesthetic, which is a lovely scene for all to enjoy. Seriously, I struggle with medical stuff like this.

Anyway, while this is happening, Kiko helps everyone else escape from their cages. The rest of the movie is essentially these white people completely out of their element and mainly unable to communicate with anyone around them ridiculously holding their own against native people who have lived in this place their entire life and have years of experience running an organ harvesting and smuggling operation. Honestly, it beggars the imagination, but if they don’t escape and fight back, the rest of the movie is literally surgery.

If you haven’t guessed, I don’t have a really positive opinion of Turistas. This is an ugly film that goes for the lowest common denominator and doesn’t rise to the level of Hostel. It has essentially the same basic philosophy—places outside of America and people who don’t speak English are dangerous—but does it less well. For the gorehounds who are watching this because it promises the dubious joys of torture porn…there’s very little of that here. The one thing that people are genuinely going to watch this for—blood and guts—is lacking through most of the movie. Even the promise of nudity, something you should likely expect in a movie set in large part on a beach in Brazil, is fulfilled minimally and not really past the first half hour.

I don’t mind gore when it’s relevant to the movie or to the story being told. The gore that shows up in Turistas feels gratuitous, like it’s there as fan service, and there’s not enough of it to satisfy the people who genuinely want it. The plot isn’t that interesting and has been done better in other places. So, honestly, what’s the point of this?

Ultimately, that’s it. Turistas contains nothing that isn’t done better, more, or more interestingly somewhere else. Don’t waste your time.

Why to watch Turistas: Rich assholes in peril.
Why not to watch: It’s Hostel but actually shittier.


  1. I've seen this film and thought it was mid at best.

    1. "Mid" is a compliment from this xenophobic nonsense.