Synopsis: A group of student activists travels to the Amazon to save the rain forest and soon discover that they are not alone, and that no good deed goes unpunished.
Release Date: September 25, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Adventure, Horror
It’s been over two years since The Green Inferno, the gory cannibalism movie from writer/director Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever), made its premiere at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival. Since then, the film’s release has been postponed, put off, and even cancelled numerous times. Well, for better or worse, The Green Inferno finally gets its wide release this week.
The Green Inferno starts innocuously enough with a college freshman named Justine (Lorenza Izzo from Knock Knock) being persuaded by a charismatic social activist leader named Alejandro (The Stranger‘s Ariel Levy) to join a protest group travelling to Peru in order to stop a logging company from bulldozing a section of Amazon rain forest. Their objective is to disrupt the demolition and capture everything on camera. Sounds simple enough.
Around the halfway point, the movie takes a dark turn when the plane that is carrying the group crashes, leaving the students lost and wounded in the jungle. They are not alone, however; an indigenous tribe of cannibals has found the crash site and captures the students. Justine and the others need to figure out a way to escape from the natives before they are all killed – and eaten.
So, The Green Inferno is neatly split down the middle into two different movies. The setup half is rather mediocre, full of bad actors emotionlessly reading poorly written dialogue that tries to be subtle about foreshadowing the coming events (“I sure hope this little plane doesn’t crash!”). It’s almost too stereotypical of a horror movie – it feels like a bad joke.
All that changes midway through the movie. Once the plane crashes – and the crash itself is probably the most riveting sixty-or-so seconds in the history of disaster movie cinema – Eli Roth is truly in his element. The Green Inferno is chocked full of the brutality and gore that Eli Roth fans have come to expect from him, but there’s more to the second half of the movie. With the students captured, there’s an almost The Deer Hunter kind of a vibe going on, with the kids going through the mental torture of not only being locked up, but wondering who is going to be the next to be pulled from their cage. There’s also a feeling of distrust that permeates the film, with plenty of antagonists in every direction – the logging company, the Peruvian army, the cannibals, there are even tensions that simmer and boil within the group of captives itself. While the first half of The Green Inferno may disappoint, the second half does everything it can to make up for it.
Eli Roth will be the first to admit that The Green Inferno owes a debt of gratitude to Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 schlock film Cannibal Holocaust. Roth’s film even takes its title from the original groundbreaking video nasty. But The Green Inferno is more than just a Cannibal Holocaust ripoff. Eli Roth wears his influences on his sleeve, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. None of that matters, though; fans of Eli Roth know that they’re going to love The Green Inferno. For the rest of the moviegoing public, however, it’ll probably be a toss-up.
Eli Roth makes a handful of very strong directorial decisions within The Green Inferno. First, and most obvious, is the decision to shoot the film on location in the rainforests of Peru. The scenery is lush and beautiful, full of leaf-green trees and mud-brown rivers. Roth takes it a step further by including indigenous peoples in the film – and not just as background filler, in actual lead roles. The presence of both the locations and the tribespeople make the film frighteningly authentic. Second, and probably the most merciful, is Roth’s choice to not make The Green Inferno into a found-footage film. With the number of cameras and cell phones that the students are carrying with them, it would have been easy to go the faux-documentary route (as Cannibal Holocaust did), but to Roth’s credit, he took the cinematic approach, and everyone can be thankful for that. Finally, and this is the most subtle choice, Roth slowly changes the photographic style of the film to match the mental state of the characters as the story goes on. At the beginning of the film, Roth and his cinematographer pal Antonio Quercia (Aftershock) use traditional, locked down cameras to tell the story, but as the madness ensues, the cameras get shakier and the shots get tighter, until finally, the cameras are all handheld and the images are all face-chopping close-ups. The camera work goes crazy along with the characters. There may be flaws in the script and story, but the direction in The Green Inferno proves that Eli Roth really knows how to make a movie.
Scary may not quite be the right word for The Green Inferno. It’s definitely shocking, brutally violent, and absolutely disgusting, and the scares are mostly cheap gross-outs – remember, Eli Roth is the guy who made the gruesome Hostel and the splattery Cabin Fever. The Green Inferno doesn’t really get bloody until the second half, but once the floodgates are open, there’s no stopping it. The cannibals torture, mutilate, and eviscerate the students, and just about every gooey drop ends up onscreen. There’s a ton of suspense in the film, too, but not the typical Hitchcockian show-them-the-bomb type of suspense, more like an uncomfortable anticipation towards whatever atrocity is going to happen next. Most of the second half of the film is unbearably tense and truly cringe-worthy, the type of movie that the viewer watches through his or her fingers, trying not to look but also not wanting to miss anything. The Green Inferno isn’t scary in the traditional sense, but it is highly graphic and disturbing, so it is its own brand of horrifying.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Eli Roth
- Producer(s): Eli RothMiguel AsensioMolly ConnersNicolás LópezChristopher Woodrow
- Screenwriter(s): Guillermo AmoedoEli RothNicolás López (Uncredited)
- Cast: Lorenza Izzo (Justine)Ariel Levy (Alejandro)Aaron Burns (Jonah) Kirby Bliss Blanton (Amy)Magda Apanowicz (Samantha)Daryl Sabara (Lars)Nicolás Martínez (Daniel)Sky Ferreira (Kaycee)Matías López (Carlos)Eusebio Arenas (Scott)Antonieta Pari (The Elder)Ramón Llao (The Bald Headhunter)
- Editor(s): Ernesto Diaz Espinoza
- Cinematographer: Antonio Quercia
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Elisa Hormazábal
- Casting Director(s): Dominika PosserénKelly Wagner
- Music Score: Manuel Riveiro
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA