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|UK title: Paradise Lost|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir John Stockwell|
scr Michael Ross
with Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Beau Garrett, Desmond Askew, Max Brown, Agles Steib, Miguel Lunardi, Andréa Leal, Lucy Ramos, Gustav Roth, Jorge Só
release US 1.Dec.06, UK 1.Jun.07
Caipirinhaville: George and Duhamel
With a slight twist on the stranded-tourists slasher movie, this raw and grisly film keeps the tension levels fairly high, even if it is thoroughly predictable.
Alex (Duhamel), his sister (Wilde) and her friend (Garrett) are travelling through Brazil on a creaky old bus driving far too fast. The inevitable happens, and they're left stranded with a handful of fellow tourists, including a couple of British guys (Askew and Brown) and an Aussie girl (George). But they're near an idyllic tropical beach, which is perfect for a night of partying. Tragically, a group of locals robs them and then plots something far, far worse.
Stockwell shot the film entirely in Brazil and the authentic tone and locations add to the unsettling tone. These travellers are frighteningly vulnerable; it's bad enough to be stranded in such an isolated place without someone trying to kill you. But it's the overwrought murderous plot that turns the film from an intriguing tale of foreigners into yet another conventional fright-fest.
The tone is reminiscent of travel-themed thrillers like The Descent, Wolf Creek and especially The Beach, but in this case we're pretty sure who will survive. That isn't to say there aren't jolts along the way. And the grisliness keeps us squirming in our seats--not necessarily for what we see, but for what we imagine. Indeed, one of the problems is that we can't see very much, as most of the action happens at night in the pouring rain. Or underwater. Or in underground caverns. The action scenes never quite make sense on screen; we just know something nasty is happening.
The cast is excellent, veering effortlessly from the hedonistic comedy of the opening section, to the drama, suspense and ultimate horror later on. The characters aren't terribly deep, but they do have intriguing shades here and there. And the actors are remarkably game to do most of this either shirtless (the guys) or in bikinis (the girls). Usually soaking wet. There are actually some strong scenes in here, including a pointed political comment, which at least gives us something to pretend to chew on while we wait for the next assault on our senses.
|Mary, Los Angeles: "Thought this film was incredibly exciting. Very much an edge of your seat thriller and down right realistic looking. The underwater scenes were incredible and very well done. The actors were all great, especially Duhamel." (30.Nov.06)|
© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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