Saturday, July 24, 2010

Europeans Will Kill You

Getting killed by Europeans isn't just for American tourists anymore. Two movies I watched recently were European films of the tourist-torture genre of horror.

The first was the 2006 British film "Severance." Severance is about a group of office employees from a weapons manufacturing company that goes off to a cabin somewhere in Eastern Europe for a team-building weekend. Only the cabin they wind up at is not the luxury retreat they were expecting. And they keep getting killed one by one. Oops. The irony is, of course, that they are being killed off with weapons supplied by their own company. Severance is VERY funny. Who doesn't love a good satire-horror about the military industrial complex? (Complete with one office worker whose interest is in building more humane land mines.) The characters are all pretty likable, and I was sad to see a couple of them get it.

The second film was Iceland's 2009 "Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre." Sit right back and you'll hear a tale...of a bunch of tourists who get massacred while on a three hour tour, er, whale watch. This film is very, very bleak. It opens with grainy found/archival footage of whalers butchering whales. (Have I ever mentioned on this blog that I'm afraid of whales?) The movie plays out kind of like Texas Chainsaw Massacre but on a boat in the North Atlantic instead of in some Southern US backwoods. The idea here is that the Icelandic Mrs. Fratelli and her sons are pissed about Greenpeace's actions to take down the noble whaling industry and so they take it out on whale-watching tourists. (Although someone not on the boat is concerned that people don't look at whale watching from the whale's point-of-view. What about their privacy?) Also: the song that plays as the credits roll is Bjork's "Oh So Quiet" with the choruses covered by a metal band. Awesome.

The two films are about equally gruesome, but RWWM is a lot less fun simply because the tourist characters are just so mean and selfish. Not only do they not try to help each other make it out alive, they sometimes actively thwart the others' chances of survival. Sure, the crazy inbred hunchbacked Viking Nazi Jesus-freak killers are pretty messed up, but the characters trying to avoid getting killed by them are a brutal bunch themselves. Jeesh.

Anywho, the moral of the story is that if you're ever touring in Northern or Eastern Europe, and wackos come after you with murderous intent, try to help your comrades-without-arms to survive, k? Otherwise you're fucked.

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