Paradise Lost (2006)

Paradise Lost was originally titled Turistas, and I have to say, I'm not entirely sure what the point of the retitling was. It seems a bit misguided to me - for one thing, how many people who want to watch derivative horror movies are familiar with Milton? And for another, nice work, marketing guys, you just made your movie way, way less Google-friendly. A quick search for Turistas brought up the IMDB page for the movie first, and the rest of the first ten results were also connected to the film. Try that with "Paradise Lost", though, and you get the full text of Milton's epic poem, courtesy of Google Books, then a site about a 'dark rock band' called Paradise Lost. Nothing related to the movie shows up till the second page; it's the 14th result.

So, not smart. Then again, neither is the movie.

Packaged variously as an American Pie-style sex comedy or a Hostel-wannabe torture movie, Paradise Lost falls down the (vast, gaping) crack between the two. The first two-thirds of the film are spent introducing a group of largely forgettable young people who've managed to get themselves very lost in Brazil. When their bus breaks down and they're told there won't be another one for at least 10 hours, things are looking pretty dire ... until they discover there's a bar and a beach not far away, and decide to enjoy themselves.

So far, so good. Filmed on location in Brazil, the movie does at least look good. The location is absolutely stunning, and there are some nice set-pieces; the underwater caves are a particularly inventive touch. But it's not long before everything goes wrong, both for the characters and for the film itself. Seems the over-friendly locals are actually involved in the black-market organs trade, and our gormless protagonists have just walked straight into their trap. Cue running, hiding, and gore.

Actually, to give it its due, Paradise Lost isn't a torture movie. There's really only one scene with gore, and the victim seems to have been pumped full of painkillers, which makes a nice change. But the whole thing seems to lack any kind of purpose. The characters are paper-thin, defined mostly by their nationality; both heroes and villains are only really distinguishable by their accents. The good guys are from America, England and Australia; the bad guys are from South America. The good guys speak English; the bad guys don't. The only two locals who aren't evil are the ones who speak English. While, on the one hand, I want to applaud the fact that when the bad guys are speaking amongst themselves, they use Portugese, rather than the heavily accented English most bad movies go for, I'm also not comfortable with the Anglophone/non-Anglophone good/evil line that the film has drawn. It doesn't help matters that there's a sliding scale of evil in the film that seems to be based on the amount of melanin in a character's skin, either.

Paradise Lost is, essentially, a waste of time. It's pretty, but it's also stupid, and there's a worrying amount of xenophobia bubbling away beneath the surface.

IMDB link

No comments: