The Green Inferno Movie Review
Written by Giuseppe Infante
Released by Blumhouse Tilt
Directed by Eli Roth
Written by Eli Roth and Guillermo Amoedo
2013, 100 minutes, Rated R
Theatrical release on September 25th, 2015
Lorenza Izzo as Justine
Ariel Levy as Alejandro
Aaron Burns as Jonah
Kirby Bliss Blanton as Amy
Ignacia Allamand as Kara
Sky Ferreira as Kaycee
As I made my way through Manhattan’s busy streets with a knot in my stomach, anticipating Eli Roth’s long awaited The Green Inferno, images of people eating people, rape and animal sacrifice replayed over and over in my head. I shouldn’t have watched Cannibal Holocaust the night before, but I wanted to mentally prepare myself for the early screening I was about to catch the following evening. After seeing the movie, I am happy to report The Green Inferno is not a found footage film, thankfully. The buzz on this film had fans of Roth drooling for the release for years (filming wrapped up in 2013), while his detractors are ready to tear through his homage to the cannibal horror subgenre with premeditated critiques. There is actually an index of the films which influenced him rolling during the credits, so be sure to hold your pee and not leave right away. In comparing the two gruesome displays, Cannibal Holocaust wins in repulse factor and shock value, but Roth’s cannibal outing wins in entertainment, storytelling and social commentary. Whether you are a fan of Roth or not, The Green Inferno is a solid effort all horror buffs should eat up.
Eli Roth’s films always do a good job balancing dark humor, social commentary and relentless gore, and here he is at his best. Imagery during the opening credits is a bird’s eye view of the endless verdure from the jungle treetops, hence the nickname for the Amazon being ‘Green Inferno’. Images and sound are a significant part of the ambiance in The Green Inferno, from the locals involved in filming to hearing insect noises and flesh tear. Classic middle class suburbanite characters, similar to Hostel and Cabin Fever, are on the menu in this bloody display.
The story follows Justine, a college gal looking to make a change by joining a student activist group trying to save the native tribes inhabiting the Amazon rainforest. Her father is a bigwig lawyer and she wants to stray from the ‘rich kid’ label by paying it forward. Seeing female genital mutilation in a sociology class is part of the catalyst for her joining the activist group, along with playing eye-games with the hunky group leader, Alejandro. In conversation over dinner with her father and friend, Kaycee (Sky Ferreira), Justine says, “...female genital mutilation would end if oil was involved.” She is spot on. Curious about making a difference, she questions the group when they’re at a meeting discussing their venture to Peru. “So what’s the plan, march through the jungle and starve ourselves,” she asks before being shunned from the group by Alejandro. Her character traits are on display early in the film and Lorenza Izzo shines in the lead role.
“Don’t think, act” is the motto of the student activists, though telling people not to think and act is what gets these youngsters in the whole cannibalistic mess in the first place. “Think before you act” would have been a better mantra. Justine and her pals could have went to Habitat for Humanity or some other notable organization to do their part in helping better the world, rather than chaining themselves to trucks and trees in the Amazon without a strategic plan. Destroying the rainforest means decimating the native’s home, thus committing genocide. There are always ulterior motives...
Without revealing any more of the story, this is where we depart from civilization as we know it and enter the native’s realm. Roth’s portrayal of the cannibalistic tribe is realistic, much like the effects used when blood, guts and other body parts infiltrate the screen. He has actual natives acting and filmed on location in the Amazon, giving The Green Inferno an authentic look. One specific scene is extremely brutal, but nothing in the film, or any film for that matter, made me cringe like the native woman being raped in Cannibal Holocaust. The Bald Headhunter (Ramon Llao), the yellow-faced, bone-nosed tribesman on the movie poster, and The Elder, a witchdoctor-esque leader of the tribe, are creepy and take charge when encountering the “civilized” folk. What does it mean to be “civilized” anyways?
I was expecting way more carnage in the hour and forty minute flick, but that doesn’t take away at all. It does the opposite, enabling tensions to reach unbearable heights and payoff is worth the two year wait for release. Roth supplies enough to please the gore hounds and make the non-horror fans feel skirmish or worse— puke. Providing insight into several social issues pertaining to government, civilization, privilege and corruption, The Green Inferno is a successful film on several levels and not for weak stomachs.