This sort of plot generally inspires films that go straight to DVD under titles such as I Eat Your Guts or Holiday on Blood Island . Desperate for loot to pay for a prolapsed boob job, some former Melrose Place star turns up as one half of a couple honeymooning in a supposed Hawaiian paradise. Before they find time to break out the sun cream, news emerges that a pair of motiveless killers are chopping up innocent visitors by the score. The climactic bloody mess fails to save dying careers and they all go back to their jobs in shopping television. You know the sort of thing.
Well, A Perfect Getaway (nice title, incidentally) is a slightly classier piece of work. The stars arenâ€™t exactly A-list, but nor are they people who expect to be sleeping in their cars anytime soon.
Milla Jovovich, star of Resident Evil and a thousand magazine covers, and Steve Zahn, reliably frustrated nerd, play good-looking newlyweds making their way to the 50th state for a week of trekking and canoodling. While driving along a remote path, they stop to pick up a pair of hitchhikers (Chris Hemsworth and Marley Shelton) who, unreasonable and testy from the start, turn properly nasty when the heroes express reservations about making a diversion to their new friendsâ€™ proposed destination.
Later on, they encounter yet another pair of eccentric adventurers. Deadwood â€™s Timothy Olyphant plays a war veteran with a plate in his head and an array of dubious yarns in his knapsack. Kiele Sanchez turns up as his amiable, long-suffering southern girlfriend.
As intelligence arrives concerning slayings on other islands, Tim and Kiele, who have offered to accompany Steve and Milla on their trek, begin to act more and more suspiciously. Kiele suggests that Tim, who has knives strapped to every extremity, is â€œvery hard to killâ€. (Weâ€™ll see, shall we.) They slaughter a goat and, with ominous efficiency, hack out its guts before their queasy pals.
Through it all, Steve, a budding screenwriter, and Tim, who would like to see his life on the big screen, analyse the current adventure as if it were playing out in the local Odeon. Steve reveals understandable concerns about what the outdoorsman has planned for the violent final act.
Still, though these two may be scary, they are not as unnerving as those annoyed hitchhikers who keep reappearing at the most inopportune moments. Which of the two odd couples are the killers? Are the villains another set of people altogether? All is revealed in a very satisfactory, reasonably surprising, moderately gory denouement.
Such stories are, it is true, probably more suited to lower budgets and less mainstream aesthetics. But David Twohy, director of Pitch Black and writer of The Fugitive , manages to extract impressive degrees of tension from the lengthy build-up that a theatrical release permits.
Indeed, the film works better as a clash of characters than a straight- up action adventure. Some of the actors (Zahn, Sanchez) manage to inject real personality into their roles, others (Hemsworth, Olyphant) give good caricature, whereas the remainder (the least said, the soonest mended) demonstrate why none has yet to be nominated for an Oscar.
What you make of the film will, however, depend on what you make of the final hurried tying up of loose ends. Though the scenery is lovely and the sparse use of split-screen effective, A Perfect Getaway is, for most of its duration, preparing the ground for what it hopes will be a mighty gasp of surprise.
If enough of you oblige, then we might yet get to see A Perfect Getaway II: Return to Blood Island . I can think of worse things.