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Paradise Lost (2007)
7th Oct 07
Brother and sister Alex (Josh Duhamel) and Bea (Olivia Wilde), along with Bea's friend Amy (Beau Garrett), make up the American contingent of a bunch of backpackers that run into trouble on their travels.
Joined by British buddies Finn (Desmond Askew) and Liam (Max Brown) and Australian tourist Pru (Melissa George from The Amityville Horror remake) they find that a bus accident is the least of their worries when the Brazilian island they are marooned on is not as friendly as the beach front atmosphere would have them believe.
Soon they are not only deep in the jungle but deep in shit too when it turns out that their new ally Kiko (Agels Steib), is not a chum after all having led them to Dr. Zamora (Miguel Lunardi), operator of a black market for human organs.
Receiving pretty much nothing but the now standard grotty reviews upon its Stateside release Paradise Lost now hits these shores, and, believe it or not, comes as a pleasant surprise. Taking time to build up the story and racking up the suspense, it comes as a shock when you find out that it was directed by John Stockwell, the same guy who failed so spectacularly at demonstrating the same skills in his soggy sea-thriller Into the Blue.
Director Stockwell, who made for an engaging support actor in John Carpenter's big screen adaptation of Stephen King's demonic car thriller Christine, and who makes a brief cameo appearance here as a backpacker – obviously relishes the opportunity to get down and grisly and for this critic’s money seems to have found his forte! More please.
Inevitability compared by many critics to Eli Roth’s unsatisfying and forgettable Hostel (great poster campaign, shame about the film) with its ‘people falling foul of the locals when abroad’ scenario Paradise Lost comes off as the more satisfying experience of the two films. Hostel, which was filmed at around the same time as Stockwell’s movie but released earlier, was all one big tease - threatening to give the audience an experience it had never seen before and then play most of it off camera.
Paradise Lost has no such problem in that whilst not reveling in gore, it does seem to have less fantasy about its scenario making for a more grounded and far creepier and engaging experience.
There are the odd plot niggles such as having the scalpel-wielding Dr. Zamora rant to gagged and bound Finn about why it is he does what he does. Sure this part explains much to the audience for why this is going on but comes across like one of those speeches the villain gives in a Bond movie. It would have been a lot more sinister had he just come in and do the job rather than be dressed up as ‘the villain’.
Interestingly for a movie that has successfully included British characters without resorting to the usual ‘Core Blimey Gov’nor’ stereotypes, Paradise Lost has managed to irk the good people of Brazil with the impression it gives of them and their country. Josh Duhamel, who plays Alex, apologised to Brazil on Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show stating it was never the film’s intention to turn people off from visiting their shores. It didn’t really matter though as unfortunately the movie failed to find an audience in the States, grossing a poor $7million back from a $10million. Let's hope it gets a better reception in this country.
Versions If you prefer to scream from the sofa than in the dark surround of the cinema Paradise Lost or Turistas as it is known in America is available on Region One - the standard release running at 89 minutes with an unrated version of 98 minutes deemed too gruesome for theatres on the same release.
The unrated DVD version features an extra/extended scene between Finn and the prostitute, as well as more explicit shots of Amy being "operated" on.