Brazil: land of raw beauty and exotic thrills. That's where American backpackers Alex, his sister, Bea, and friend Amy have ventured on a live-it-up vacation. When a bus ride turns disastrous, they're left stranded near a remote beach by the jungle. As they wait for another ride that's a full two days away, however, it seems they—along with a handful of other foreigners—have stumbled upon Brazil's version of paradise. Friendly locals. Breathtaking surroundings. Lots of alcohol, dancing and carousing. Things couldn't appear better ...
Until they wake up the next morning and realize they've been drugged and robbed of all their possessions. While searching for the police, they run into a familiar face who offers to take them back to his uncle's house. The 10-hour journey leaves them exhausted and exasperated, but seems to be worth it when they find the secluded house stocked with food, clothing and more alcohol. Of course next thing they know (!) the foreigners are gagged and bound, tossed into cages, and put on an ever-expanding list of unwilling organ donors.
To set the Brazilian scene, the camera quickly shows a statue of Jesus. Later, a girl decides that since the group is in a Catholic country, she shouldn't go topless. She decides instead to wear an ultra-skimpy top. "The idea is to tastefully reveal as much as you can," she explains as she strips down to almost nothing, "... but only enough that you can still get into heaven."
One elated visitor describes Brazil as a country overflowing with "girls and beaches and beer." Indeed, the moviemakers make sure to highlight the first part of that equation, as most females spend the entire 94 minutes dressed in little more than Brazilian bikinis (thongs and string tops). The camera frequently zooms in on their barely covered body parts. And various snapshots introducing the Brazilian culture feature, among other immodesties, a topless woman shown from behind. Amy goes braless while wearing a very low-cut dress that leaves little to the imagination.
After having sex with a backpacker, a prostitute is shown completely naked (her backside and breasts are seen). Amy's breasts are also seen several times, when she changes clothes in front of the group, throughout a grisly operation scene and when the camera ogles her splayed corpse.
After a brief shot of a couple having sex—with another person standing guard next to them—we see them scramble to put on their clothing when a boss walks in. A crude drawing on the back of a bus seat depicts a man's penis. And a girl makes a reference to gay sex while explaining the picture. During an extended scene of partying (and elsewhere), couples are shown dancing sexually, kissing and making out.
In Zamora's eyes, foreigners have come into Brazil and raped the land of its rubber, sugar, gold, even using its people as throwaway sexual playthings. His twisted payback is to extract the organs of any traveler he can get his hands on and offer their parts to those less fortunate—patients at a hospital in Rio de Janeiro. "I'm doing this for a good reason," he explains to his first victim, a very much alive and pleading-for-her-life Amy. He then proceeds to slice her open and gut her.
The camera doesn't miss a single flesh-cutting second of the extremely bloody procedure. As she moans and nears passing out, he continues to peel away layers and remove various innards as the excruciating scene draws out interminably.
Equally graphic are the terminations of other characters. A girl on the run falls off a cliff and we see (and hear) her head smash into a rock and then her body crunch when it lands. A man has his head repeatedly beaten with a boulder, and we see his mangled face. He somehow survives, only to be blasted with a shotgun. Another character meets the same fate; the bullet hits his face. Yet another has his fingers and hand sliced off with a machete (they're later shown being picked at by crows) before he's hacked to death. (Why his final demise mercifully takes place offscreen, in a film that has already proven itself to be so wretched, I'll never know.)
While lecturing a little boy about making good decisions, Zamora abruptly shoves a skewer in the eye of one of his henchman, then digs it further into his skull as bodily fluids gush out. Then, as if things couldn't get any more sickening, the camera stays zoomed in as a traveler uses a staple gun to close a large gash in a man's head.
A Brazilian is kicked, pummeled and then stabbed repeatedly with a knife. Other characters get shot, punched, knocked out, stabbed with arrows, drowned or impaled. After being hit by a thrown rock, a man returns the favor, hitting the offending boy in the head. A bus rolls down a hill in dramatic fashion.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Once the crew discovers the beachside paradise has a fully stocked bar, the beer and hard alcohol flow freely. The night party turns deadly when the backpackers are drugged (and haze distorts the camera's view). In another setting, several travelers down glasses of scotch and talk about malt liquor. In two different scenes foreigners and locals alike pass around marijuana joints and other inhalants. Bags of weed also get mentioned. A handful of characters smoke cigarettes and cigars.
There's a 10-minute span in Turistas that shows what this movie could've been. A trio of survivors swims through a maze of underwater caves while being chased by baddies who will do unthinkable things to them if they're captured. While roaming through the submerged darkness, the escapees struggle to find cave pockets in which they can surface and draw a panicked breath or two. Meanwhile, the group accidentally gets split apart, with one girl losing her flashlight while a villain pursues her mere feet away.
It's intense, scary and mesmerizing. The kind of scene that leaves you literally holding your breath—without punching you in the gut as thanks for your sympathies.
Not so much for the rest of this gratuitously depraved Hostel copycat. It may not be as bad as that benchmark-setting psycho-flick in terms of never-ending graphic sex, violence and gore ... but that's only because of the never-ending part. Turistas still "successfully" bores into your mind and soul with a nauseating, lengthy torture scene that spares no details. And an eye gouged with a skewer. And a head smashed against rocks. And a dozen other completely unnecessary, completely shocking-for-the-sheer-sake-of-shock sequences.