Film Synopsis: “New York college student Justine (Lorenza Izzo), a lawyer’s daughter, meets a student activist named Alejandro (Ariel Levy) when he goes on a hunger strike on behalf of underpaid janitors. Smitten, Justine agrees to help Alejandro undertake his next project: to save the Amazon. She soon learns to regret her decision when their plane crashes in the Peruvian jungle and she and the rest of their group are taken captive by a tribe of hungry cannibals.”
I’d like to go ahead and clarify that this will likely come across as more of a discussion on the horror film genre, rather than a full-on review of The Green Inferno. Mostly because while the movie didn’t particularly resonate with me like I had anticipated it to, it did make me think a lot about what “horror” really is and how I and pop-culture define it.
I’m a big fan of Eli Roth. Cabin Fever, Hostel, HOSTEL 2. I feel like that last one is severely underrated. I know people get incensed about the “torture-porn” genre of horror, but I’m f***ed up so I like it, and Hostel 2 has always stood out to me as particularly brutal and, well… creative. Being a fan of Roth’s work, I was naturally excited about him returning to his fully involved style (writing, producing, and directing) with The Green Inferno.
You’ll hear people say that this film is an homage to the classic cannibal films of the 70’s and 80’s, and that’s true. Many aspects of the film will show that. The acting, cinematography, and even the pacing of the film feels like one of those old horror flicks.
The gore-factor is definitely high, that’s for sure. Once the group gets ambushed by the cannibalistic natives, all bets are off. They begin dismantling (quite literally) the college kids one by one. The first guy to go is the last person you want to see die such a horrible death, and knowing Roth, that was on purpose. Give the audience something to love, and then amputate it and feed it to cannibals.
I’ll start by saying, The Green Inferno didn’t strike me as a film that was trying to be “good”. I don’t necessarily mean that it’s goal was to be “bad”, just that I think the things most people would see as cinematic flaws seemed intentional to me. For example, the acting is a little flat, but not weak, and the cinematography is unpolished at times, but never poor quality. Understanding the film-makers intentions is a very important part of how you interpret a movie. If the film-maker intended to convey a specific point, but the audience didn’t feel that they could gather that perspective from the finished product, then the film-maker failed to achieve their goal. That doesn’t make their artistic contribution any less important or meaningful. It just means they fell short of a personal goal. However, if you simply don’t *like* the point they’re making, well that doesn’t mean they’ve made a “bad” or “flawed” film. It just means that you personally didn’t connect with it and that’s not the film-makers fault. But, it’s not your fault either, it’s just a difference in perspective, which is OK and not a reason to be a relentless a–hole toward said film.
The next thing I’d like to discuss is that I feel like The Green Inferno is better defined as a “gory thriller” rather than a “horror” film. It’s brutal, that’s for sure. There are some pretty cringe-worthy moments that made me flinch a little. But… I had different expectations. It’s me. I know it is. I was expecting something like Saw III or The Human Centipede, but it felt a little more tame than those movies. I kept waiting for a barrage of gruesome unspeakable violence, but instead you mainly get spurts of tough to watch cruelty. I in no way mean that to sound condescending. This is just how my expectations, and hearing things like people were running out of the theaters to puke, set me up for a personal disappointment, that I do not hold the film or Eli Roth responsible for.
When Kevin Smith made Red State, he defined it as a horror film. Most people would most likely define it as a dark suspense/thriller film. Kevin Smith chose to define the film that way because of how he saw the content of the film relating to society. For example, Halloween and Friday the 13th are horror films because the idea of a masked man mercilessly hunting you with the intention to murder you simply because he can is f***ing terrifying. Jaws and Cujo are horror movies because the idea of an animal hellbent on eating your face, as well as the rest of you, is f***ing terrifying. By Kevin’s logic, Red State is a horror movie because the idea of a group of religious lunatics carrying out “god’s work” by torturing and killing people that they deem as godless sinners is f***ing TERRIFYING. So by using this analytical process, we can justifiably define The Green Inferno as a horror movie because the idea of being stranded in a completely unknown area of the world and held captive by “uncivilized” people who intend to eat you, and can’t be reasoned with, is really, REALLY F***KING TERRIFYING.
There’s more to The Green Inferno than just a bunch of white kids (and one black guy!) getting murdered and eaten. But, you know, that is a pretty big part of it. The whole film is really 2 things: (1.) an homage to flicks that Roth grew up on, and (2.) a big middle-finger to all the “social justice warriors” out there. Not exclusively the people who think a hashtag will save the rain forest, or that a hunger-strike is gonna end worldwide racism, but also the people who get unnecessarily… I’m gonna use the term “butthurt” here, and you’re probably not gonna like that because you probably think it’s meant to be derogatory and you’re right, it is, because you really are acting unnecessarily butthurt. Anyway, his point seems to be something like… nature, and the universe, have a process, a cycle, and nothing is exempt from that. For every uncharted tribe you try to save from being driven to extinction by a soulless corporation, there’s another tribe trying to kill and eat you (hell, it might even be the same tribe), or there’s some other corporation waiting to step in and pull the trigger as soon as you let your guard down. This is the way the world is.
Do you like Eli Roth movies? Cool. Then you’ll probably enjoy this one. Do you like gory flicks? Well then, you too will probably enjoy this one. Do you *have* to see it in the theaters… I mean, like I said, it may just have been my unfairly high expectations, but by the end I didn’t think there was anything that made it crucial to see on the big screen. You’ll likely enjoy it just as much if you wait to stream it, or grab it from Redbox. If you do check it out, and you can watch it in like an old run down theater with a crappy screen, I bet that would make it an awesome experience it, seeing it just the way you would’ve been able to see something like Cannibal Holocaust. Hey! Maybe cannibals are gonna be the new zombies! I, for one, welcome our new cannibal overlords!