Once in a while—or twice in a while in this case—a movie comes along that: isn’t scary so it’s not horror; isn’t suspenseful enough to be a thriller; and isn’t exciting enough to be an action film. And that perfectly describes Borderland and Turistas, two shit storms totally mismarketed as horror films after Hostel ushered in an era of travel terror films. I guess these cautionary crapfests about vacationing in foreign countries didn’t stand a chance with a guy who barely leaves the comforts of his Dan cave.
The intro to this movie, featuring close-ups of a terrified woman’s face begging for mercy along with shots of some scary surgery tools, suggests torture porn dead ahead.
Then we meet Josh Duhamel and Olivia Wilde, who are brother and sister vacationing in Brazil with a friend. Their tour bus crashes and they meet some other tourists, including Melissa George of 30 Days of Night and The Amityville Horror remake. After a run-in with some locals, they spend a lot of time partying, are drugged, wake up with their stuff (and some of their people) missing, get into another fight with locals, and are then led deep into the jungle by a friendly local to a house where supposedly they will be safe.
Any dimwit would be able to see the warning signs, but not these typical stupid Americans. They dive right back into the fun—literally—cliff diving and swimming, which presents the whole reason this movie was apparently made. Their new friend takes them down into beautiful, disorienting underwater caverns. It’s so obvious this area will play a big part later. They end up at the house and find evidence that bad shit goes on there, but not fast enough. Pretty soon they are in animal cages.
A barely menacing man begins to extract organs from one of them while politely explaining that America has taken from Brazil for so long so now it’s time for payback. Blah blah blah, fight fight, escape, chase…and back to the underwater caverns for the final shoot out and melee confrontation because it’s just such a cool location that the filmmakers were hoping it would make this shitty lame organ harvesting film worth a watch.
The torture porn baiting this time promises a movie about voodoo as a scary bald guy and his henchman terrorize two cops looking for drug cartels in Mexico. The baddies let one of them go to tell all the other cops to stay away or else.
Then we meet Rider Strong of Boy Meets World and his two buddies in Texas. And naturally, they’re going to cross the border to party in Mexico. Here’s where I immediately can’t relate. I would never even get near Mexico because I’d never go near the terrifying buffer between the U.S. and Mexico: Texas. And it has nothing to do with my fear of Leatherface.
The threesome goes, they party, one of them falls for a prostitute with a baby, they do drugs, then Rider Strong leaves the bar alone…and gets in a car with some strangers. Am I really supposed to care about these dipshits? REALLY?
He wakes up bound in a barn, with Sean Astin caring for him and promising him his life is going to change. In the meantime, his buddies are looking for him, hook up with the cop from the beginning, and are shunned by local “law enforcement.”
Meanwhile, Rider meets the leader of the cult and delivers a great if brief performance reacting to the few torturous acts the leader of the cult does to him during a human sacrifice ritual.
And then…the other guys locate the cult, leading to blah blah blah, fight fight, escape, chase, shoot out and melee confrontation. Fuck these shitty movies. Baddies from fucked up countries no one in his right mind would ever visit aren’t scary. And Borderland being based on a true story doesn’t make it any scarier.