With a deliberately camp sensibility that nods, winks and repeatedly jabs at the audience, A Perfect Getaway succeeds mainly at being a perfectly terrible but wholly entertaining B-movie experience. Sure, the tension and mysteries unfold like a particularly masterful and violent episode of Scooby Doo, with a five-minute explanation scene to boot, but this tale of a honeymooning couple in peril offers up laughs, scares and jocose scenarios with an engaging construct of audience manipulation and awareness.
Things start with newlyweds Cliff and Cydney (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) touring around Hawaii, discovering the sights and experiences. Despite an uncomfortable encounter with white trash couple Kale and Cleo (Chris Hemsworth and Marley Shelton), the pair trek on to take a multi-day journey to a secluded beach the locals rave about.
While mostly excited about the trip, a sense of unease creeps in when the couple learn of some nearby murders, which is exacerbated when they stumble across Gina and Nick (Kiele Sanchez and Timothy Olyphant), a couple with convenient stories and an unsettling demeanour.
This latter crossing of paths defines the middle portion of the film, as Cydney and Cliff analyze curiously-timed reactions and stories obsessively, resulting in paranoia and bad decisions. Self-reflexivity and hammy reactions successfully keep this ramp-up to conflict tense and amusing, as do playful performances from both Sanchez and Olyphant. What proves most interesting is that the seeming inconsistencies and peculiarities typically serve a specific purpose, keeping the audience watching and questioning their perception.
Many folks will respond to all of this with a roll of the eyes and quick dismissal of the material but most likely won’t be able to deny the chaotic fun of the inevitable climax. There may be minor flaws and an abundance of hokum throughout A Perfect Getaway but the overall experience of the film is a blast.