Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Aberrant Violence and Torture, Grisly Disturbing Images, brief Graphic Nudity, Sexual Content, Language and some Drug Use
Directed by: Eli Roth
Written by: Eli Roth & Guillermo Amoedo
Starring: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Daryl Sabara, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Sky Ferreira & Magda Apanowicz
THE GREEN INFERNO has endured a troubled trip to the big screen. Premiering at 2013’s Toronto International Film Festival and then slated for a September 2014 theatrical release, the film was shelved indefinitely when its studio encountered monetary issues. Not all was lost though as Jason Blum rescued Roth’s two-year-delayed cannibal opus and THE GREEN INFERNO is now playing in theaters. We have a cannibal movie playing in theaters nationwide. That alone seems like something worth celebrating for horror fans. THE GREEN INFERNO is a love-letter to Ruggero Deodato’s CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST minus all the controversy and general unpleasantness (e.g. animal cruelty and rape) that came with that film. It may be packed with more humor than I was expecting, but I had a bloody blast watching THE GREEN INFERNO.
Justine is a college student with the hots for an activist group leader. In order to get closer to him, she joins his cause. Though she’s having a hard time fitting in, Justine believes in the group’s motto, which is “Don’t think. Act!” Staying true to the second part of that slogan, the activists travel to an Amazonian rain forest to stop an evil construction company from tearing down a nearby tribal village. This is a success much to the students’ chagrin, because the tribe they save turn out to be head-hunting cannibals. One short plane crash later, Justine and her activist pals have been taken captive by the cannibal natives. Turns out, they’ve arrived just in time for dinner (see what I did there?).
Eli Roth has spent lengthy amounts of time fleshing out characters in his previous movies (whether they’re worthy of such development is another argument entirely) and THE GREEN INFERNO also has a fairly noticeable chunk dedicated to its set-up. However, I didn’t necessarily find any of this to be boring thanks to Lorenza Izzo’s performance as Justine. She’s a compelling lead and the only likable person in this film. Aside from Justine, the only other character of note is Alejandro (played by Ariel Levy). This guy is a spectacularly over-the-top asshole and got some big laughs from the audience. The rest of the activists are simply annoying lambs going to the slaughter. The cannibals are played as blood-thirsty savages. This will probably offend large groups of viewers looking to be offended, but there are similar tribes out there that still exist. If you don’t believe me, do a quick Google search on cannibals in New Guinea. The savage stereotype is also appropriate given the shocksploitation subgenre that Roth is hearkening back to.
Staying true to the subgenre that he’s paying tribute to, Roth’s GREEN INFERNO is an absolute gorefest. The slow building momentum at the beginning all pays off as soon as our activists run into the cannibal tribe. We get crazy, intense killings. These are mostly executed through stellar practical work done by KNB effects (who have also had a hand in many notable horror classics). I would say that this film really pushes the R rating to its limit. We see mutilation, bizarre execution rituals, lots of body parts to spare, and even a direct nod to CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. Viewers who have been blessed with strong stomachs might find themselves getting queasy during a couple of moments and giggling with amusement during others. GREEN INFERNO is creative in its shock value. That being said, the film shows its budget with some spotty CGI, especially during one particular torture scene.
What really surprised me about THE GREEN INFERNO is how funny it is. Roth injects his sense of over-the-top humor to make this work as both a horror film and a gruesome satire about uninformed, attention-seeking slacktivists going into places where they shouldn’t venture. It’s lots of bloody fun for horror fanatics who are familiar with the Italian cannibal subgenre. The social commentary is not too subtle, but neither was the message of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. That being said, I wasn’t a big fan of the last 10 minutes of this film as I could see the ending being telegraphed from a mile away. A mid-credits scene also feels like an obvious set up for a sequel, which is supposedly in production and Roth has nothing to do with it.
I’m not going to pretend that all horror fans or film buffs will love THE GREEN INFERNO. That’s simply not the case, as evidenced by certain reviews and a couple who furiously walked out of the theater after one particularly nasty gore gag. For fans of old-school cannibal shocksploitation, Roth’s tribute is a stomach-churning, darkly hilarious, and blood-soaked ride. I didn’t expect the movie to be as funny as it was (especially given the material), but that also benefitted it a lot in my eyes. Overall, THE GREEN INFERNO serves as another winner for Eli Roth and a gory good time for a certain crowd. If this sounds like your kind of film, then you’ll probably enjoy it.