A perfectly unsatisfying way to spend 97 minutesd

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A perfectly unsatisfying way to spend 97 minutesd

Movies that involve sexy characters in exotic locales watching their backs for a killer on the loose can be hit or miss.

Hits you know when you see, and they usually either gratuitously pay tribute to the genre or build up all of the conventions only to tear them down and redefine your expectations.

A film that comes to mind that does both particularly well is 2004’s “Club Dread,” a satire of the genre that also happens to be better than most sincere attempts at it. “Scream” also comes to mind as a film that mocks the very things it’s doing while it’s doing it.

“A Perfect Getaway” seems to desperately want to be one of those films. But like a person who is trying way too hard to be cool, it automatically misses the mark.

A newlywed couple (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) vacationing in Hawaii is about to embark on a three-day hike to a secluded beach when they hear about the murder of some honeymooners on another island. And the killers - a heterosexual couple themselves - are still on the loose.

Apparently not dissuaded by foreshadowing, they continue on their way and meet another pair of lovers (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez) heading in the same direction. While this foursome hits it off, they find out they are being followed - because apparently single people are not allowed to vacation in Hawaii - by yet another couple (Marley Shelton and Chris Hemsworth), except this pair dresses like hippies, and are thus suspect.

Finally, as the film progresses, we learn that there is more than meets the eye to all of these characters. Zahn’s character is a Hollywood screenwriter, so he and Olyphant’s character exchange quips about writing red herrings and adding a twist in the second act.

How subtle.

When a movie drops obvious hints about a pending twist and doesn’t have a whole lot else going for it, such as interesting characters or thrilling action, you can safely assume it’s going to happen.

And when the filmmakers continue to give you unsubtle hints about a twist to the point that any viewer with a pulse knows what’s going to happen, it’s not very exciting when the “surprise” happens, now is it?

Not very exciting: the perfect way to describe A Perfect Getaway, a film preoccupied by trying to thwart convention, but too routine, meandering and obvious to actually do so.

There is a brief moment, sometime after the big reveal, where things start to get weird. It’s promising, because until that point, nothing about the film tries to be all that daring or edgy. I’m talking about some drugged-out, weird stuff with some funky stylistic editing, and for an oh-so-brief moment there’s a chance that some cool stuff could go down.

But instead, there’s a brief climax and the movie ends. And you think about how, on paper, the twist might have worked, and how the filmmakers must be patting themselves on the back for being “meta” and having a red herring himself talk about red herrings!

But that’s all been done. I think moviegoers these days live in a post-“The Sixth Sense” world. If a film is going to have a twist, it needs to go big - pull out all the stops, and really mess with your head - or not bother trying in the first place.

A Perfect Getaway

Suspense, Horror / English

97 min.

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By Andrew Siddons [asiddons@gmail.com]
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