The Green Inferno, 2013.
Written and directed by Eli Roth.
Starring Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Aaron Burns, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Magda Apanowicz, Ignacia Allamand, Daryl Sabara, Nicolas Martinez, Sky Ferreira, Eusebio Arenas, Richard Burgi and Matias Lopez.
A group of student activists travel from New York City to the Amazon to save the rainforest. However, once they arrive in this vast green landscape, they soon discover that they are not alone – and that no good deed goes unpunished.
Eli Roth is a director that tends to split opinion among horror fans. Some think that his ballsy and gore-nographic mind is a breath of fresh air and a hark back to the days when films tried to push the limits of what was socially acceptable, while there are those who just feel that he’s a gore hound for the sake of being a gore hound. His Hostel movies where nothing but than immature excuses to put up horrific images and force us to watch and they never featured anything in the way of character or even charm. His latest offering, The Green Inferno, still features that Eli Roth thirst for blood but there is a bit more maturity behind this director’s eyes this time around. Mostly anyway.
A clear homage to Cannibal Holocaust (Roth’s favourite movie by all accounts), The Green Inferno sees a group of student activists attempt to shut down a deforestation operation but end up getting captured by a cannibal tribe. But underneath this simple plot, Roth shows two sides of himself in The Green Inferno. One of which is his more mature side of a filmmaker in terms of how he uses gore and shoots his victims. The bloodshed on screen happens for a reason and Roth can feel justified in showing us in graphic detail the removal of an eye because this is how his antagonists act. Earlier in the movie, they set up that these tribes feel it’s okay to take part in female genital mutilation so the idea that they would also scoop out eyes, cut out tongues and eat flesh seem well within their realms. Furthermore, during some of the more horrific scenes, Roth chooses wisely what to show us and when to reveal the images. This is a side of Roth we’ve not seen before and it’s very refreshing to see.
The other side however is the Roth of old who just can’t help but be immature. After a horrible and uncomfortable scene of mutilation and stomach churning visuals, he feels the need to drop in a few fart jokes as if too lighten the mood. The film often skirts round this base level of “humour” with a few moments almost ruined by childish jokes. It goes from Cannibal Holocaust to Dude Where’s My Car? almost too easily.
Which is a real shame as Roth is a competent director who can really hang his audience on tenterhooks. The Green Inferno features one of the more taut and tense plane crash sequences since Final Destination and the early moments of our heroes entering into the tribe’s camp are filmed so frenetically its hard to keep your heart out of your throat. He knows just how to make an audience wince and squirm in their seat and that is again on display with The Green Inferno. It’s disgusting, tense and racked with fear, but let down some silly choices.
The Green Inferno really shows some growth in Roth as a writer and a director. He has created a group of teenagers who you want to see survive and are genuinely sad when they die, which is something you don’t often see often enough in today’s horror let alone his previous movies. His intentions are very clear and he has created a decent homage to one of the most well-known movies in the genre, but The Green Inferno just doesn’t quite hit all of the right notes and that brings it down a couple of notches. It’s the best movie in his back catalogue, but then that’s not saying much.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.