Postcard scenery, honeymooning couples and a remote beach in the middle of nowhere.
The perfect getaway? Definitely yes.
The perfect ingredients for a horror thriller? Surprisingly, yes as well.
A Perfect Getaway sees newly wed Cliff and Cydner (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) on a backpacking holiday of a lifetime, which could end their lives. Heading off hiking into the wild in search of seclusion they encounter a group of scared backpackers who tell them that another honeymooning couple have been gruesomely murdered.
Worried and fretful, they journey on further from civilisation, questioning their safety, troublingly discovering more information about the psychopathic killers as they go and suspecting everyone they meet. Are the killers an Iraq War vet Nick and his animal gutting girlfriend Gina? Or the angry and unhinged Kate and Cleo? Or is there someone else out there in the jungle watching them and waiting to turn this island paradise into hell on earth.
Great credit must go to David Twohy who not only wrote the clever, intelligent and at times very funny script, but also directed the film with style, flair and originality. After cutting his teeth, and a few maniacal hairballs, on writing movies like Critters 2: The Main Course, Warlock, The Fugitive and G.I Jane he shot into the limelight with the excellent and inventive Pitch Black which he also directed. In the same way Pitch Black seamlessly blended genre elements of horror and sci-fi, A Perfect Getaway takes thriller and horror conventions and gives them a twist.
With perfect pacing this movie moves effortlessly. First building up tons of tension, then upping the terror and the thriller elements until the explosive third act where action, horror and a deadly chase give the audience not only ‘the answers’ but the climax that they have been waiting for.
There is some light relief amidst the apprehension and impending dread. With in-jokes aplenty as references to Cliff’s job as a scriptwriter and comments about how hard Nick is to kill provide some very entertaining conversations.
The cast is also excellent all round, delivering a set of great performances and very believable characters. Zahn is instantly likable and easy to identify with as the worrywart husband to Jovovich’s doting yet multifaceted new bride.
Also worth mentioning is Timothy Olyphant who is superb as the edgy and charismatic Nick, balancing his wit and charm with a dark violent side which he lets out just enough to keep the audience guessing.
It might not do anything for the Hawaiian tourist board but A Perfect Getaway is a near perfect horror thriller. By cleverly building up the characters, the situation and the tension with pressure cooker intensity it delivers a horrific, gory and shocking finale, made all the more powerful and impressive due to everything that has come before it.
With a wash-out summer, pricey air fares and the recession still going, if you’re a horror fan or a thriller fan or just fancy a great movie, a trip to the cinema to see this film is the perfect getaway for you.
Additional film information: A Perfect Getaway (2009)