A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this torturous (literally and figuratively) horror movie is absolutely not for kids. It's full of gross-out violence -- the sort characterized by yucky wounds and bloody body parts. Violent acts include a stick in the eye, a hook in a foot, shooting, knifing, and surgery (depicted here as sadistic). The insidious motive for the murders is organ harvesting, described in some detail as a problem of class/nation inequities and depicted brutally. Characters engage in reckless sexual pursuits, though the one couple who actually have sex (off camera) use a condom. Characters drink, smoke cigarettes and pot, and are drugged by murderous villains. Language is pretty much incessant, including repetitive uses of "f--k."
What's the story?
In John Stockwell's torture-as-horror flick, a bus filled with American, British, and Australian tourists plunges off a mountain road in Brazil. Escaping with only some scattered luggage, they decide to hang out with youthful, energetic locals who appear eager to party, have sex, and learn English. It's not long before the tourists -- including Alex (Josh Duhamel), his sister Bea (Olivia Wilde), and his potential romantic interest Pru (Melissa George), Finn (Desmond Askew), and Liam (Max Brown) are drugged, robbed, and apparently incapable of calling home or American Express for help, and so they end up dependent on those same locals for help. Of these, Kiko (Agles Steib) appears the most sincere: He offers the group his uncle's swank house atop a jungly mountain. Little do they know, but that very uncle, psychopathic Dr. Zamora (Miguel Lunardi), intends to harvest their organs.
Is it any good?
Turistas is short on clever scares and long on bloody excess (machetes and scalpels being implements of choice). It also lurches between images that are breathtakingly beautiful (think Blue Lagoon) and literally hard to see, as when a tattooed thug chases victims through dark underground caverns, swimming for long minutes underwater.
The fact that the doctor's own viciously verbalized racism leads directly to his downfall doesn't exactly make up for the film's demonizing of dark-skinned characters throughout. It's also helpful and silly that he explains his thinking on the issue while digging into a pretty girl's torso for her liver and kidneys (essentially, he's angry at American imperialism and arrogance and wants to see a Yankee heart beating in the chest of an ailing Brazilian child). His villainy is underscored repeatedly: He puts a kabob stick through a follower's eye, murders his minions when they misbehave, and keeps passports of past victims, for no fathomable reason except to grant the newest ones the chance to discover them and be suddenly afraid.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the carelessness of the privileged tourists, whose callous treatment of non-English-speaking people and ignorance of local customs marks them as somehow "deserving" of punishment. Do you think this a realistic portrayal of how some travelers act? What point is the movie trying to make beneath all of the bloodshed? What attitude should you take when visiting other countries and cultures?
- In theaters: November 30, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: March 27, 2007
- Cast: Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde
- Director: John Stockwell
- Studio: Fox Atomic
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong graphic violence and disturbing content, sexuality, nudity, drug use and language.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.