My idea of a perfect getaway may not involve suspicion, violence and gore, but it sure makes for a suspenseful film.
A Perfect Getaway follows a couple, Cliff and Cydney Anderson, honeymooning on the Hawaiian Islands. While taking in the scenery of the great outdoors during an 11-mile nature trek across one of the islands, they come across a group of girls who have just learned that there have been some murders on the islands and that the killers have yet to be caught. Fearing that it might be the abrasive couple that they didn’t give a ride to and is now on the same hike that they are on, they decide to continue on with another couple, Nick and Gina. However, the idea of “safety in numbers” starts to seem fallible as paranoia sets in and everyone starts to become suspicious of everyone else, changing the hike into a game of “everyone’s a suspect.”
Starting with handheld footage from the wedding, this film quickly puts the viewer on their guard. After all, beginning a film of this genre with something as happy and nostalgic as a wedding video can never be a good sign for the characters involved. Then the story picks up with the couple in a really beautiful part of Hawaii (and Puerto Rico if you are keeping track of actual shooting locations) that’s sunny and romantic, yet creepy thanks to the surrounding dense greenery with iffy cell phone reception. By keeping the footage shot mainly to the daytime, the story becomes slightly more off-putting and uncomfortable thanks to the sunshine mixed with the potential for brutality like with what has been done in The Ruins and Lost.
Though the setting and how the film is shot adds a lot to the overall feel of the film, most of the creepy factor actually comes from the characters themselves. Though there are a few obvious standouts as to who can be suspected of being murderers, this film is full of potential red herrings. First there is the above-mentioned couple, Cleo and Kale (Marley Shelton and Chris Hemsworth), who appear to be stalking Cliff and Cydney and seem to have enough anger issues to kill someone over not being given a ride. Then there is Nick and Gina (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez), whose hospitality mixed with death-defying wild stories makes them a prime contender for the murderous couple as well. But then after the main couples are assessed, there are plenty of other characters to start to wonder about, and every action and word spoken becomes a potential clue as to the killers’ identities. Every glace becomes suspicious, and at one point I was even willing to throw the group of girls from the beginning of the film into the suspect pot. In other words, everyone is a suspect, and it is easy to spend every moment trying to piece what is really happening together until the murderers are revealed. And though this revelation may not be that surprising once it finally enters out into the open, it is still deserved because of all the work up to that point. But I will say the flashback scene following is a little much and drags on longer than it should, sticking out like a soar thumb thanks to the monotonous use of blue throughout its entirety.
The “who-done-it” element is one of the best parts of the film thanks to the cast being filled with actors capable of great performances, with Olyphant’s portrayal of the off kilter war vet being a highlight. Plus, the film warrants as many cheers as it does “ugh! Don’t do that!” cries because these characters obviously don’t always show the best decision making for the type of film they find themselves in. But with its minor flaws, A Perfect Getaway remains an entertaining thriller that keeps you reassessing what you know the whole time.
Final Grade: B