One of my favorite horror movie genres is ignorant tourists doing stupid shit and then getting absolutely annihilated. I know, loving this genre is not my finest hour but it can be so gratifying. It used to be seen as “Dear Americans, don’t travel, because outside of the most awesome U.S. of A. everything is mayhem” which was a.) kinda racist and b.) really not true. But in the last couple of years, it has turned more and more into: “If tourists can’t respect different cultures or LISTEN to people then I guess they had it coming.” Which is a pretty good end-of-the-He-Man-episode-moral, don’t you think? So, here’s a list of some hopefully entertaining movies about dumb tourists getting into trouble.
PS: To not overdo this list, I will not include: reporters, documentary-teams, investigators, tourists that are not dumb and still get in trouble (as seen in “Rogue”, “Wrong Turn”, “Texas Chain Saw Massacre”) and tourists that traveled for other than “fun” reasons (finding a missing relative, overcoming trauma, etc.). Look, I enjoy watching dumb tourists get cursed but not people looking for their missing spouses or siblings.
PPS: Minor spoilers ahead (I try to avoid them but when talking about the main plot or even with the subject of this list, spoilers will happen)
The Ruins (2008)
Depending on how much you are willing to adhere to the “suspension of disbelief”-rule of horror movies, this might be amazing or really stupid to watch. I belong to the first part. I love this movie. First of, the cast is pretty amazing. Admitted, I read the book by Scott Smith (who only wrote this and one other book and then disappeared) and its characters are a lot more layered there but that’s always the case when you can show inner monologues. As it is, it’s a bit more subtle than the usual annoying teenagers (although they are really annoying).
The premise: a bunch of teens/college kids explore a hidden part of the jungle in Mexico. When they happen upon a mysterious Mayan building, nearby villagers attack them and the group rescues themselves on the top of the building. Hilarity ensues.
I love this because the ideas are so fresh and I’ve never seen anything like it before or after. The dramaturgy is perfect, the way this movie unfolds, or rather, escalates, is amazing because there’s no breathing time. Given that these kids are not able to look up ancient city records in the local library or talk to that one old janitor who knows shit, because they sit on this damn building, this could have been awfully boring. But it’s a great ride that makes use of a good cast, a stellar idea and some nifty special effects.
This movie, written by Simon Barrett (who also wrote “You’re Next”, “V/H/S” (parts of it) and “The Guest”) is one of those “told in flashbacks by “one survivor but who is it and what happened?”-movies. I am usually not the biggest fan, I like to be surprised where things are headed (opposed to real life, but that’s for an entirely different kind of blog post).
Anyways, it is basically a twisted, very awkward reunion between beautiful Kate and her best friend Chris who obviously (no spoilers here, this much is evident from the get-go) is super into Kate. Sucks for him, though, because she brought her bae James (womp womp). As needed for this horror movie list, all of this happens in Japan and therefore, of course, centres around a mysterious temple.
I am not even sure whether I fully love this movie but I’ve watched it three or four times already, so it must do something right. The reviews are really bad for this one but as I watch for entertainment and not just for artistic merits, I feel like this is a good enough entry. The cinematography is very striking (Cory Geryak) but the movie has its lengths and there are parts that reek of “only horror movie characters are THIS dumb”.
Usually, I don’t do this but this anthology has one segment that counts for this list (I usually try to focus on movies that solely deal with the topic), I feel that for anthologies that’s alright. “V/H/S” is – like pretty much all anthologies – a mixed bag. The first movie is definitely better than the second and it overall has a pretty tight atmosphere (although anthologies like “Southbound” or “Trick ‘r’ Treat” are miles better on every account).
The story that deals with dumb tourists is full of bro culture. Bros are on a trip and try to get laid, bring a few girls into their room and hilarity ensues. It’s a nice little story, well executed and it has a certain charm.
Not to be confused with “As above so below” (as seen on my “caves and tunnels”-list) which somehow changed its name to “catacombs” which is awfully confusing since both movies deal with the creepy tombs under Paris, this one is the one with Shannyn Sossamon and Alecia Moore aka Pink. Make of that what you will.
It’s basically about these two partying hard in the literal underground scene of Paris and then getting sucked into a tomb nightmare. This movie right here is less the psychedelic mind-fuck that “As above …” is and – as I remember – also a little less tight. It’s easy to get distracted because it has its lengths and even Shannon can not really save it from its rather bland script. BUT, those catacombs are always amazing and are worth a look on their own.
Again, not to be confused with the Pixar hit movie – even though its hit song “Let it go” would equally fit this movie – this one is about a group of Winter sports tourists who get trapped in a ski lift. Believe it or not but this is it. And it’s good, really good. The movie feels cold and has a tight script. Amongst fans, it’s a big favorite, probably because it’s really fun sitting snug and cozy at home, watching attractive young people coming up with one stupid idea after the other to get out of a situation that 100% is on them. Good times.
Fun fact: Shawn Ashmore is in this as well as in “The Ruins” which makes him the Scream King of this list. Congrats, Shawn!
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