Friday, April 17, 2009

Paradise Lost / Turistas (2006).

Again I found myself watching a "holidayers in peril" movie, and again I have Dad to thank, in a way.

He undoubtedly started my fascination with urban myths. I remember him regaling me with them when I was probably too young and imaginative to have been given such fodder. I love you Dad! His favourites were ones like these, and also the tale more closely related to this review: kidney theft. Horrible, scary, brilliant.

Not one of those three words can similarly be applied to Paradise Lost, sadly.

It starts promisingly enough, with an impressive bus crash in the middle of nowhere, Brazil. The American, English and Aussie tourists team up and head to a nearby bar. It all seems too good to be true: a beautiful beach, free flowing booze served by gorgeous friendly locals. What could go wrong? Surely a crazy with surgical experience and most of the Brazilian cast under his orders, isn't going to somehow drug these fine specimens, cut them open and steal their organs?

Well actually yes, that is exactly what is going to happen.

For the first half the feeling of escalating panic and helplessness is conveyed well. What starts as an "Oh shit we've been robbed" situation soon becomes much worse as one of the group accidentally injures a local boy, incurring the wrath of the locals and forcing the backpackers to flee. When they do eventually find shelter, it is in the house of the aforementioned kook.

Once here however, a lot of the suspense disappears into the surrounding jungle. At this point things should be ratcheted up, I should be squirming and chanting "Get out, get out - RUN!" at the screen. I wasn't though, in fact I was a bit bored. The boredom only increased when badly lit action scenes started appearing. Just like in Shrooms... What the fuck?! How is this allowed to repeatedly happen? With no idea who is tied up, free, hero or villain in the murk onscreen, it was going to take some kind of special dissection scene to get my interest at all piqued again.

Hmm. Well, I'll put it like this:

Ways in which the dissection scene succeeded:
  • Great effects. A special feature tells you that a weighted full body prosthetic of the actress was made. Cool.
  • Having it so that one of the other characters watches helplessly as the operation takes place, knowing full well he is next.
  • Best part was the last shot of the scene: they wrap a newly exhumed organ in gauze atop the unfortunate young woman's breasts. Nicely grisly and as close as we ever get to the grim exploitation route this movie should have taken all the way through.
From here, I couldn't be arsed to cap it myself.

Ways in which the dissection scene failed:
  • Not gory (or not gory in the right way!) enough to be truly nasty.
  • Not enough nudity to be titillating.
  • Soundtracked by an over-long, distracting explanation of the motives behind these murders. Bor-ring.
Director John Stockwell commented on the fact that this is the scene people will leave the theatres talking about. Yes John, because that is the only decent thing about this movie!

Having been released after Hostel I imagine it was something of a piggyback on the whole "torture porn" phenomenon, but it's really not worth it. It's saying something that I - not a huge fan of Hostel in the first place - would rather sit and watch that film three times over than have to see this again. Back in the post box it went to LOVEFiLM, and they can jolly well keep it as far as I am concerned.

One day I will find a film worthy of my passionate love of urban myths... one day! *shakes fist*


  1. All I remember is the underwater chase sequence that goes on and on and on *facepalm*

  2. *nods* Would have been quite effective if it hadn't taken an eternity to play out!

    I really need to watch some decent horror soon.

  3. Well that's a shame, I was really looking forward to this one (based on the DVD art). I'll give it a miss now.

    - Zac

  4. Aw sorry Zacery. It's just my opinion but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. There was a lot of scope for this to be horrifying, but it just wasn't :/