So, one year after its release was delayed, Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno has finally been unleashed upon the world. We all eagerly watched the trailers and read any tidbit of news on it while out hearts fluttered and our brains danced with excitement (or maybe that was just me), hoping to whatever god we choose to believe in, if any, that this film wasn’t going to be an utter piece of shit. I, being a lover of Italian cannibal films, kept my fingers crossed, hoped and prayed that it wasn’t going to suck like gluten free spaghetti noodles. I didn’t buy into any of the hype as I knew that was geared towards idiots who think the epitome of horror is Ouija or Freddy vs Jason. Or the Poltergeist remake.
But I still kept my hopes up.
So, is The Green Inferno seeped in blood and guts and utter tastelessness? A film so shocking that it merits fainting? A film so appalling in its sheer brutality that even jaded horror fans are going to be screaming and gasping in pure terror and disgust?
Nope. Not at all. I knew this wasn’t going to be the Second Coming of Cannibal Holocaust, but I was hoping to get more than I did.
Lorenza Izzo (wife of Eli Roth) stars as Justine, a freshmen at college who gets involved with a group of college activists led by Alejandro (Ariel Levy) after hearing about female genital mutilation in one of her classes. While they don’t think she is serious at first, the group soon warms up to her and invite her to come with them to the Amazon to protest a construction company’s destruction of the rainforest, which is home to ancient and elusive tribes. They are successful in their protest (after five minutes because that’s how it works); while celebrating on the return flight home, the plane crashes in the forest. They are then taken captive by one of the very tribes they saved. I’m sure we all know where it goes from there.
Eli Roth got into some trouble back in July when, during an interview at San Diego Comic-Con, when he slammed “social justice warriors,” those people on Facebook and Twitter and other social media platforms who post about issues going on in the world yet do nothing else about it, or those who know next to nothing about an issue yet want to get involved. “I see that a lot of people want to care and want to help, but in general I feel like people don’t really want to inconvenience their own lives,” Roth said in the interview. “And I saw a lot of people just reacting to things on social media. These social justice warriors. ‘This is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong.’ And they’re just tweeting and retweeting. They’re not actually doing anything. Or you see people get involved in a cause that they don’t really know a lot about and they go crazy about it.”
These are exactly the types of people he portrays and by God if they aren’t the dumbest group of activists I’ve ever seen portrayed on film. Seriously, I don’t think these morons could even spell “activist.” A high point comes when Alejandro mentions the militia presence at the construction site. Everyone reacts like they had no fucking clue (one guy even says he thought a militia was part of a crane). Hm, why would you go into an area to protest a company whose methods you know nothing about? Yeah, I don’t think legit activists work that way. But then, these people really aren’t “legit activists.” They’re “college student activists,” those types who take one class in college and think they are well-informed on everything. Justine’s friend Kaycee describes them as privileged white kids who become activists to alieve their white suburban guilt. They’re hearts aren’t in it because they care, only because they want people to think they care.
Seeing as they don’t really give a shit about what they’re doing (even Alejandro, whom we think is the only one with his heart in it, is later revealed to be a fraud), then why should we? Our Give a Shit meters are sunk lower due to the fact that the “activists” are about as cardboard thin as it gets. Each one is literally made up of one or two stereotypes. We have the Stoner Dude, the Weak Girl, the Strong Girl (we know she’s strong because she has tattoos), the Bitch, the Technology Geek, the Good Girl, the Asshole, and—a 2-for-1 deal here—the Token Black Guy who also happens to be the Token Fat Guy. I really dare you to try and give the slightest shit about any of them. I couldn’t. In fact, I was eagerly awaiting them all to die—and laughing uproariously when they did. And, for some reason, the film thinks these characters are worth spending the first 45 minutes with. Seriously, I was starting to get pissed off, thinking this was going to be one of those shitty flicks where only the final ten minutes contains any bloodshed. Looking back at some of the older cannibal flicks (good or not), they knew what the audience wanted to see. Thus, the characters were deposited in the jungle within the first twenty minutes to get to the gore and nudity as quick as possible. I mean, I have no objection to slow builds, but for fucks sake at least make the characters interesting!
But let’s be honest here: this movie isn’t about great characters. It’s about seeing annoying idiots get the fuck killed out of them. This, the film delivers on with injections of black humor (a scene involving stoned cannibals is a definite high point), and it is pretty much the films only redeeming quality. However, for a film that is so obviously inspired by Cannibal Ferox, Roth opts not to utilize the film’s, or even the genre’s, more grotesque methods of dispatching characters. There is nary a castration in sight I’m sorry to say, nor are any women’s breasts violated by hooks. (However, there is a scene involving ants with effects that look lifted right out of a SyFy Channel original movie. Simple pleasures, folks. Oh, and no animals are killed, period. Bonus!) In fact, a lot of the violence and gore seems censored. Though Roth claims he didn’t have to make any cuts to secure an R-rating from the MPAA, I suspect otherwise. However, if what he says is true, then it makes one wonder why he even bothered to make a movie in a genre where violence and gore are the main selling points. Sure, it has a fair amount of gore, but it’s nothing you won’t see in, say, Hostel, or Cabin Fever, or the plethora of low-budget zombie flicks that have saturated the marketplace. Maybe those who don’t know jack shit about horror or those who only see what is handed to them in theaters might find the gore excessive, but those of us who’ve dug beneath the surface will find ourselves laughing more than anything, maybe even a bit unimpressed. But then, perhaps the rather light gore could be attributed to the fact that Roth said he wanted to make a cannibal film like Werner Herzog might have made. Roth, I dig your films, but you are no Werner Herzog, and The Green Inferno is no Aguirre, the Wrath of God.
While The Green Inferno isn’t a terrible movie, it’s certainly not up to par with Roth’s other films. Nor will it be competing with the cannibal genres notable entries. For a first effort it would have been passable, perhaps giving us a glimpse of good things to come, but as a fourth feature the whole affair comes off as lazy. Were it not for the fact that I enjoyed watching the characters die, I would probably have to place this near the bottom rung of cannibal flicks (amongst such “classics” as Cannibal Terror, The Real Cannibal Holocaust, and Devil Hunter). As it is, I’ll give it a spot in the middle: worth a watch, but it’s not gonna make you blow a load. Or chunks for that matter.
|"My life of suburban privilege didn't prepare me for this!"|