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dir Carter Smith
scr Scott B Smith
with Jonathan Tucker, Jena Malone, Laura Ramsey, Shawn Ashmore, Joe Anderson, Dimitri Baveas, Sergio Calder—n, Patricio Almeida Rodriguez, Jesse Ramirez, Balder Moreno, Nathan Vega, Tanisha Marquez-Munduate
release US 4.Apr.08,
08/Australia DreamWorks 1h31
Pretty and stupid: Tucker, Ashmore, Ramsey and Baveas
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Well filmed and acted, but with a plot as cheesy as a 1950s B-movie, this film is fairly creepy but not very scary, mainly because we couldn't care less what happens to these pretty, stupid people.
While on holiday in Cancun, four Americans decide to visit an archaeological dig at a pyramid in the jungle: alpha-male Jeff (Tucker) and his girlfriend Amy (Malone), plus Amy's airhead pal Stacy (Ramsey) and her childish boyfriend Eric (Ashmore). They're accompanied by a German (Anderson) and a hapless Greek guy (Baveas). But on the top of the pyramid, strange things begin to happen, as a bizarre flowering vine seems to want to keep them there. As do the armed Mayan locals who form a ring around the base of the pyramid so they can't escape.
The film's opening section feels rather exactly like Turistas, with bright young actors playing wealthy Americans who bumble into a foreign culture and fail utterly to interact with everyone, including visitors from other countries who are savvier in the ways of the world. But as it progresses, everyone turns out to be equally cocky and stupid, avoiding all warnings as they wander right into the middle of a seriously yucky situation.
So it's a shame the film never manages to crank up any real terror. It's an intriguing story, with strong acting, a great sense of foreboding and some seriously grisly twists and turns. And there's also the utterly gonzo fact that the sinister villain is a carnivorous relative of Japanese knotweed. But the fun is undone by the rushed back-stories and some truly ridiculous dialog ("This just doesn't happen!").
Although it has to be said that some of the lines combine that silliness with rather astute satire ("Four Americans on vacation just don't disappear!"). And there is some intriguing subtext as the Americans and Europeans arrogantly stroll right into the middle of a mess that's being carefully contained by the locals (even local birds and horses know better than to go near that pyramid). But without a story or characters we care about, it just ends up as a rather pointless series of cheap thrills.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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