Six Movies Where Travel Goes Horribly Wrong

127 Hours, James Franco
"Yep, I'm stuck."

Donna Hull is an expert boomer-travel writer whose site, My Itchy Travel Feet, is an amazing fount of knowledge for all things related to boomer travel. She recently wrote a great piece on what to do when you CAN’T travel, so of course, I tossed in my two cents with Three Cool Travel Movies. If you can’t get away, watching a movie filmed in an exotic locale is a great way to escape from your routine for a couple of hours.

The comments on Donna’s story turned to ‘[amazon_link id=”0385494785″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Into Thin Air[/amazon_link],’ the film adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s book about a Mt. Everest climb that took a tragic turn. That made me think of ‘[amazon_link id=”0307387178″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Into the Wild[/amazon_link],’the true story of how Christopher McCandless abandoned everything and ventured into the Alaskan wilderness, all of which spawned the idea for Movies Where Travel Goes Horribly Wrong.

Oh, so many choices, but what immediately springs to mind are all those horror flicks where teenagers or newlyweds or families take a once-in-a-lifetime trip to some cool country and end up getting stalked by a serial killer. Yeah, I don’t watch those movies. Too scary. I’d never travel again.

But here are a few suggestions for your consideration:

1. ‘127 Hours’ – Good lord, people, if you ever decide to wander off into the wilds of Utah, take your cell phone and make sure it’s charged up, for heaven’s sake. In one way, Aron Ralston’s ultimate sacrifice of hacking off his own arm to escape from a crevice is the bravest thing I’ve ever seen. In another way, it makes me want to stay away from anything resembling a crevice.

Still, director Danny Boyle and star James Franco did a great job bringing the real-life story to the big screen. Rated R for language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images (though I wouldn’t know because I had my eyes closed for much of the last 20 minutes). Buy [amazon_link id=”B004L3AQFG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]’127 Hours’ on Amazon[/amazon_link].

Sanctum, Rhys Wakefield
"Hmmm … I wonder where this dark and scary opening goes…"

2. ‘Sanctum’ – Just shoot me if I ever think about skydiving into the biggest hole you’ve ever seen. Chances are good that a storm will come up and you’ll be trapped down there and forced to go deeper into an intricate cave system with no sure way out. Talk about claustrophobia.

James Cameron took some flack from critics over this 2011 thriller, but I thought it was well done. I wasn’t into caving before, and I’m even more not into caving now.  Rated R for language, some violence and disturbing images. Buy [amazon_link id=”B004UA8D1O” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]’Sanctum’ on Amazon[/amazon_link].

3. ‘Taken’ – I’ve already told my daughter that she’s never going to Europe with a friend. Ever. I’ve even been trying to get her to take martial arts classes with me to no avail. I’m sure in her mid-teen crowd, it’s probably the most uncool thing she could do.

Still, it could come in handy if either of us is ever abducted by unsavory people and sold into slavery a la Maggie Grace in this movie. Thank goodness her dad was Liam Neeson, a trained tough guy who wouldn’t take no for an answer in this 2008 action crime thriller. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, some drug references and language (cut version). Buy [amazon_link id=”B001GCUNYO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]’Taken’ on Amazon[/amazon_link].

Taken, starring Liam Neeson
"You're goin' down unless you gimmee some answers, loser!"

4. ‘Cast Away’ – Oh, poor Wilson. That friendly soccer ball drifting off into the ocean as Tom Hanks calls after it has to be one of the saddest things about this 2000 drama directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Hanks as a FedEx employee stranded on a tropical island after his plane crashes in the South Pacific.

The message? Keep your soccer-ball friends close and never give up hope. Rated PG-13 for intense action sequences and some disturbing images. Buy [amazon_link id=”B000WQWPJQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]’Cast Away’ on Amazon[/amazon_link].

Snakes on a Plane, Samuel L. Jackson
"Take this, you darn snakes!" (This is a family site, people!)

5. ‘Snakes on a Plane’ – “Somebody get these [bleepin’] snakes off this [bleepin’] plane…” You know, it’d almost be worth seeing this 2006 movie just to watch Samuel L. Jackson utter that iconically cheesy phrase.

Hundreds of snakes released on a passenger plane to kill a witness in a mob boss trial? That’s some gutsy way to buck the system.  It DOES kind of make you look around to see who’s riding the same plane with you, though. Rated R for language, a scene of sexuality and drug use, and intense sequences of terror and violence. Buy [amazon_link id=”B0029O0BL8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]’Snakes on a Plane’ on Amazon[/amazon_link].

6. ‘Alive’ – Based on Piers Paul Read’s book ‘Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors,’ this 1993 movie based tells the story of a Uruguayan rugby team involved in the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571.

The plane crashed into the Andes mountains on October 13, 1972, and let’s just say that the survivors were forced to do some unsettling things to stay alive. Like eat the passengers who died. It’s meat and protein, right? Rated R for crash scenes too intense for unaccompanied children (yes, that’s the official MPAA rating). Buy [amazon_link id=”B000065V40″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]’Alive’ on Amazon[/amazon_link].

Images: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, New Line Cinema


  1. Vera Marie Badertscher Avatar

    Well of course the most obvious one is Titanic, or how about Blair Witch Project? But after seeing the trailer for Monte Carlo, I think it might qualify, too. 🙂

  2. VeraMarieBadertscher ( Avatar

    Good! RT @reellifejane: Summer is for travel, unless you’re in one of these 6 #Movies Where Travel Goes Horribly Wrong r

  3. ChezSven ( Avatar

    Good! RT @reellifejane: Summer is for travel, unless you’re in one of these 6 Movies Where Travel Goes Horribly Wrong

  4. ruth pennebaker Avatar

    What about Don’t Look Now? I still think its ending is still the most haunting, horrifying scene I’ve ever encountered — almost enough to scare you off Venice.

    1. Jane Boursaw Avatar

      Thanks for the recommendation, Ruth. I haven’t seen Don’t Look Now, but will definitely scout out a copy. I’m a big fan of both Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. Bonus points that the story was written by Daphne du Maurier.

  5. Living Large Avatar

    “A Perfect Getaway,” (that wasn’t!)

    1. Jane Boursaw Avatar

      That movie looked really interesting when it came out a couple years ago, but I never had a chance to see it. Thanks for mentioning, Kerri. I’ll scope out a copy on DVD, especially because Timothy Olyphant and Chris Hemsworth are in it. 🙂

  6. Melanie Haiken Avatar

    I just love, love love this post. And of course we can add all those trashy comedies like National Lampoon Vacation. I’m a diehard (since the very first episode of Freaks & Geeks) James Franco fan and yet I was not able to see this movie because as an avid hiker and outdoors person, it’s one of my worst fears and I just couldn’t face watching it!

    1. Jane Boursaw Avatar

      I love those ‘Vacation’ movies, too. And wait, James Franco was in Freaks & Geeks?! Oh man, every time I hear something about this series, it makes me want to watch it more. I’m putting it in the queue, for sure. I just have to get through season three of ‘Veronica Mars,’ and I think ‘Freaks’ might be my next Jane After Dark venture.

      Yeah, probably best to steer clear of ‘127 Hours.’

  7. Roxanne Avatar

    In some cases, these choices were what I’d think of too and in others completely NOT. Thanks for the giggle.

  8. Casey Avatar

    I know it’s not a movie, but LOST still gets my vote for the best example of what can go wrong on a plane flight.

  9. Melanie Avatar

    There is always, um, Deliverance…

  10. MyKidsEatSquid Avatar

    I don’t know if it counts or not, but I remember Romancing the Stone as one of my favorite movies about a trip that didn’t go as planned. Granted, it started out with her trying to rescue her kidnapped sister, so I’m not sure she was expecting a perfect trip;)

  11. sarah henry Avatar

    Huge Franco fan here too (though what was with him Oscar night?). Not sure I can stomach 127 Hours, either, though it sounds compelling.

  12. Jennifer Margulis Avatar

    Just reading about these movies made my heart palpitate. I think I might not be watching any of these…

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