The Green Inferno Movie Review
Written by Ted McCarthy
Released by Open Road Films
Directed by Eli Roth
Written by Eli Roth and Guillermo Amoedo
2013, 103 minutes, Rated R
Lorenza Izzo as Justine
Ariel Levy as Alejandro
Aaron Burns as Jonah
Nicolas Martinez as Daniel
Like many horror fans, I was giddy about the approaching release of The Green Inferno. I gobbled up every news update, press release, quote, and fun fact I could find to satiate my curiosity and build my anticipation about Eli Roth’s return as a writer/director. I practically did backflips when I found out I was getting to see a screening at AFI Fest in L.A., but now that I’ve seen it, I feel as if I’d been salivating over the promise of a decadent Italian feast, then got lukewarm, leftover Stouffer’s lasagna – yeah, I guess it filled me up, but it wasn’t anywhere near as satisfying as what I’d hoped for.
Named after the fictitious documentary within 1980’s Cannibal Holocaust, the film follows Justine (Lorenza Izzo), a college freshman in New York who gets involved with a group of student activists, including Jonah (Aaron Burns), Daniel (Nicolas Martinez), and leader Alejandro (Ariel Levy), who jet off to the Amazon with the intentions of stopping a big corporation from bulldozing the jungle and killing off an indigenous tribe. Once they think they’ve completed their mission, their returning plane crashes, and the survivors are taken captive by the tribe that turns out to be savagely cannibalistic.
Eli Roth is simultaneously loved and hated by both genre and mainstream film communities. For the longest time, I was in his camp of defenders, giving him kudos as a filmmaker and lover of horror even as I acknowledged his shortcomings as a writer (for a guy who co-invented “torture porn,” the most painful thing has always been listening to his characters speak). But I always somehow had faith that his next film would be better. Now, to paraphrase a quote attributed to Albert Einstein, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The Green Inferno shows, then, that I may be a little insane.
**This is your last stop before Spoilerville.**
Just like with Hostel (and even more so in Cabin Fever), the main problem lies with Roth’s uneven handling of what could have been, in the hands of a more competent horror writer and/or director, a terrifying and thoroughly enjoyable cinematic experience. Almost every time a scene has any real tension, he undoes it with something completely amateurish. We have characters on the verge of being disemboweled and eaten – and then mid-scene, a girl gets explosive diarrhea? Or a guy starts jerking off? Clearly these moments are meant to be “funny” in classic Roth style, but is it too much to just play this material straight? I don’t recall Cannibal Ferox containing too many dick and fart jokes in it.
Blatant exposition and sloppy foreshadowing spill in the first act as freely as the blood does in the third. Shortly after Justine is introduced, we get a prolonged scene of her in class being horrified by her professor’s talk of female genital mutilation. Whose vagina do you think will end up on the chopping block by the end? In the same class, Justine shouts out that her father is a U.N. lawyer. Good thing, too, because Lord knows we couldn’t have established that any other way! Oh wait, maybe in the following scene, where her father talks about being a U.N. lawyer…
Yes, the gore is good (Greg Nicotero and KNB can do no wrong), but it’s really only on display for two kills, only one of which is fully shown. Once the characters were captured, I expected the all-out, record setting bloodbath that I was told would turn my stomach. I’m sure a lot of viewers will think that’s exactly what they got, so maybe I’ve just been hardened from years of horror movie watching. This is actually a distinct possibility, although Cannibal Holocaust still disturbs the hell out of me even after repeat viewings. Then again, that film didn’t have scenes of the cannibal tribe getting high when a bag of pot gets stuffed into a fresh corpse.
My final eye-roll came during the end credits when the cast and crew list included everyone’s Twitter handle. I can’t wait for Twitter to become passé and then hear future viewers call out how lame and douchy that was.
**You’re now leaving Spoilerville. Next stop: Conclusion Town.**
This film just feels like kind of a waste, and could have been so much better if handled by someone more concerned with making it disturbing and scary instead of “fun.” It was touted as Roth’s homage to ‘70s grindhouse and those cannibal films like Holocaust and Ferox. Do yourself a favor: find out all the films The Green Inferno is a tribute to, and watch those instead.
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