Review: The Green Inferno

Naïve New York Uni student Lorena Izzo hooks up with greenie student activist group led by the supposedly charismatic Alejandro (Ariel Levy) and gets roped into going to Peru with them to protest against rainforest logging and the cruel relocation of a local tribe there. After the stunt, they’re set to leave when their plane unexpectedly goes down. Some of them die in the crash, the others like Izzo and dickhead Alejandro are set upon by a cannibal tribe who carry them back to their village, and imprison them until they’re ready to kill and eat them. Perhaps they should’ve just let the tribe get interfered with in the first place! Richard Burgi turns up briefly as Izzo’s not very likeable lawyer father.

I think it’s safe to say that Eli Roth and I just aren’t ever gonna be able to hang. Both he and Quentin Tarantino have cinephile sensibilities as I do, but unlike Roth, at least QT and I seem to enjoy a lot of the same films. “Cabin Fever” suggested that Roth liked “The Evil Dead” I guess, but he did an awful, ugly, and joyless job of emulating Sam Raimi if that’s what he was going for. Here apparently Roth (who also gave us the dreadful “Hostel”, and the silly and poorly acted “Knock, Knock”) was inspired by his favourite film “Cannibal Holocaust”, and indeed this 2013 (released in most places in 2015) cannibal flick from Roth and co-writer Guillermo Amoedo (“Knock, Knock”) is very much your standard “Cannibal Holocaust”-esque cannibal movie, albeit a bit less raw and a bit more silly/fake. I didn’t like “Cannibal Holocaust”, though. It was never boring and not quite as artistically shoddy as you might expect a film with that title to be, but due to its real filming of animal cruelty, it was an indefensibly disgusting film. I am aware there are fans of the Italian cannibal movie subgenre, I just don’t understand why. I guess I’m just not into the hard stuff and prefer my exploitation to be on the sillier side. Roth likes gore (of the less cartoony variety) and sexual violence, it seems.

There’s stunning location shooting here, so it’s a shame that Roth set his ambitions so low and wasted the scenery with a cheapo cannibal flick. How cheap? Early on Roth gives us a discussion on female genital mutilation, not because he cares but because it’s so gross hur, hur. You’re a bit of a dick, Mr. Roth. I don’t know what’s worse, the vacuous performances (including that of Mrs. Roth, AKA Lorena Izzo), the vacuous characters, or the impossible dialogue that purports to give us the ‘message’ that Roth is only pretending to care about before he gives us the blood and guts. I actually think “Cannibal Holocaust” got off and running quicker than this, too. 20 minutes in and the characters have only just arrived in Peru. And what stupid characters they are too, if slightly more likeable than in “Hostel”. Izzo’s protagonist is especially dumb. She doesn’t convince as a real person from the planet Earth, and the protest outfits these morons wear are absurd. Oh if only Roth were actually joking here, it might be slightly excusable. He’s not, he’s paying homage to his favourite film and he’s just a shit filmmaker. 35 minutes in and still nothing has happened, which is typical of Roth really. I said earlier that the performances were vacuous, and believe me they’re porno-bad, especially Izzo and Ariel Levy, who is so bad that it’s apparent he’s just trying to remember his lines and doesn’t bother to emote.

Thankfully after 40 minutes we arrive at where the film should’ve bloody well arrived at 20 minutes ago. It wouldn’t be a problem if what Roth gave us were remotely interesting or fresh, but he gives us a tedious, poorly acted re-run of a film from 30+ years ago. Nice arrow to the neck though, and whilst I’m not sure the native tribes of Peru wear so much paint, their leader certainly cuts an intimidating figure. The gore by old hands Berger & Nicotero is fake enough that when we get a total dismemberment limb by limb it’s not truly vomit-inducing or offensive. Whether I like the subgenre or not, this scene is what lovers of this kind of thing have paid to see (Stephen King apparently loved the film, by the way). I object to it more culturally than anything else, hell I enjoy a bit of the ‘ol ultra-violence from time to time (“Riki-Oh”, “The Evil Dead”, “The Seventh Curse”, “Machete” etc.) I just prefer it when it’s a bit more fantastical in nature I guess. It’s well done, though killing off the only likeable character first has its pros and cons, really. The main con being we get to spend the rest of the film with a bunch of vacuous arseholes. Then again, at least this film actually has one likeable character, not something that could be said about his previous “Cabin Fever” and “Hostel”. I also have to say that the one thing I did find a bit questionable was the use of children to play cannibals. That’s a bit…yeah. The finale could’ve been “Slave of the Cannibal God”-esque (which is still a very nasty film, mind you) except that Roth finds sex and nudity to be ‘icky’. I find Eli Roth decidedly icky.

The only Eli Roth film so far that I haven’t completely loathed, and vastly better made on a technical level than “Cannibal Holocaust”, for whatever that might be worth. However, both films will get the same rating, due to the earlier film’s rawness being somewhat of an asset just as this film’s artificiality serving to make it more palatable. This isn’t quite so sick and offensive as the earlier film. However, it’s more slow-moving, dumb as rocks, and badly acted. As such it’s not my kind of exploitation film, but at least it’s somewhat digestible. That may be the last thing fans of this sort of thing are looking for though, so don’t take my word for it. I’m just glad no real animals were torn apart and eaten this time, though it’ll still be a bit too bold and gross for some I guess.

Rating: C


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