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Holiday from hell
Paradise Lost (DVD)
Member Name: pmcds
Paradise Lost (DVD)
Advantages: Fast paced and entertaining, impressive gruesome scenes
Disadvantages: Distinctly average for the most part
Pitched as a horror but flowing more like a thriller, this confused film sees a group of young backpackers run into trouble when their bus breaks down and they are left to fend for themselves in the Brazilian countryside. This film has been slated by all and sundry, but there are a small number I seem to agree with. I found it entertaining and easy to watch, if predictable, and actually enjoyed watching it and would recommend it.
A maniac Brazilian bus driver causes his bus to teeter on the edge of a cliff. Joining together, a group of English speaking backpackers find their way to a nearby beach where there is music, drink and dance, as well as great hospitality. However, after a drunken night they wake up to find themselves robbed of everything and stranded. The idea of finding safety with local Kiko and a doctor's house soon becomes clear that it's anything but a good idea though, and something terrible is awaiting them instead...
This is a curious mix of films such as The Human Centipede and Hostel. The buildup takes up the majority of the film, and it's quite fast in terms of plot development. The characterisation is very basic, giving us minimal back stories on the characters, with perhaps the most focused upon being Alex (Josh Duhamel) and Pru (Melissa George). The group number 5 or 6, and it's as they are trying to find out what has happened to their things, including their passports, that they get a bit frantic and realise they're in danger.
Up until this point, there have been mixed emotions, with Alex taking on a 'leader' role and Pru giving a bit of backpacking and language knowledge. A mix of trepidation and fear on the one hand, and complete abandon and backpacking how it should be done on the other, mean that we get confused signals from the group, and the film itself seems to be trying to work out what is going on and how to present it. Largely a thriller, the horror elements are spoken about for a large part of the film but not actually entered into until quite late on.
There is a small amount of gruesome filming to start with, the occasional piece of graphic violence serving to show us what's in store. When we finally get to the horror element, it's more of the slasher evil doctor with an ultimate agenda type rather than the crazed violence loving maniac. But be warned: no holds are barred in the filming of the gruesome elements of the film. It is quite disturbing towards the end, and the filming and special effects crews must take credit for some impressively believable filming.
The acting is decent enough even if it isn't anything to write home about. Duhamel and George plod merrily along, while the support is average at best. It doesn't need to be anything special though. The plot's events are enough to show who we should be rooting for, and we actually do root for them, clear in the knowledge of what is going on even if they aren't. The twists are virtually non existent in this film, which is fine, and luckily the hole it would usually leave is filled by some tense jumpy moments and some edge of the seat chases.
That having been said, by the end of the film, the feeling I had was one that was just of a decent film. Nothing special, and doesn't break the barriers of the genre, although it does entertain throughout with the occasional dip in quality and the occasional rise. It's fast enough to entertain without dwelling on conversation or back story, and something you'd like if you enjoyed Hostel or The Human Centipede. Recommended but maintain lower expectation standards.
Summary: Backpacking gone wrong for a group of young adults in Brazil