Saturday, 8 October 2016

The Green Inferno

Title: The Green Inferno
Director: Eli Roth
Released: 2013
Starring: Lorenza Lzzo, Ariel Levy, Daryl Sabara, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Sky Ferreira, Magda Apanowicz, Nicolas Martinez, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand, Ramon Llao, Richard Burgi

Plot: Justine (Lzzo) joins a group of her fellow student activitists on a protest against the timber industry in Peru. However when their plane crashes into the jungle the group soon find their trouble are only just beginning when they are captured by a tribe of cannibals.

Review: Once hailed as the savoir of modern horror its taken less than the course of three films for the general opinion of Roth to plummet to ever increasingly lows especially as “Hostel” spawned a host of unneeded copycats. At the same time for some reason he has chosen to believe that everyone else is in the wrong, as recently highlighted during his appearance on the “Bret Easton Ellis Podcast” where in an always interesting move he proclaimed that critics weren’t “qualified” to critique his films while going on to rave about his love for Pauline Kael who I’m pretty sure wouldn’t have got his films either. Still since he made his debut one thing he had constantly talked about doing was a cannibal movie, let alone his love for Ruggero Deodato’s “Cannibal Holocaust” from which he draws the title for his own stab at the genre which hit its grimy heights of popularity in the early 80’s with only the occasional title such as 2007’s “Welcome To The Jungle” turning up as it seemed that film makers where happier to use Zombies to fill their people munching needs.

While it might be a cannibal movie for the most part, Roth here seems to also have an axe to grind against the armchair protestors the smart generation has spawned who happily use hashtags to fight for causes they know little about. Here we get to see this with out group of unwitting students who head out with grand plans of shutting down the local loggers by broadcasting their protest virally. This of course though is really just a plot device to set up their capture by the cannibals which follows their impressive crash landing in the jungle. Unfortunately its around this point that like the plane the film also takes a nosedive for once the cannibals turn up the film quickly descends into gratuitous splatter and misguided frat humour with Roth wasting little time in establishing the intentions of the tribe as they quickly hack to pieces and cook the most portly surviving member of the group, while the others are tossed in a cage to presumably await their turn in the cooker.

Shot on location in the Peruvian jungle and casting local jungle natives who if we are to believe Roth’s mythology surrounding the making of the film had never seen a movie which he choose to correct by showing them “Cannibal Holocaust” which seemingly they thought was a comedy rather than a horror film. Unquestionably though it adds an air of authenticity to the film as both the village and suspicious surrounding rainforest makes for a fantastic background to the grim slaughter throughout the film.

While the natives themselves might with their full red body paint might be for the most part interchangeable, Roth does however ensure that we do get a pair of memorable central villains (if they could really be classed as such) with the imposing lead headhunter (Llao) and Antonieta Pari as the village elder while adding to the “Aftershock” reunion which looking at the assembled cast seems to be what he was aiming for here. The downside here though comes from Roth continuing his love of having characters speak in their native tongue without subtitles which he first gave us in “Hostel” and there it worked as it was kept to short bursts with the characters animated enough for it not to matter. Here however we have large sections with multiple characters meaning that like the group we are never sure what is supposed to be happening or just why the tribe are so bloodthirsty towards them.

Confused might actually be the best way to describe this film as while it starts off strong enough, it really all goes out of the window when they arrive in the village, the plotting from this point falling into a vicious cycle of failed escape attempts and gory demises which for the gorehounds might be enough but for those of us wanting something a little deeper with their horror it makes for a frustrating experience. Roth only further detracts from the film by once more attempting to fuse frat boy humour with horror with the usual hideous results and giving us such random moments as one of the girls suddenly feeling the urge to take a dump in the corner of the cage (complete with stupid fart sounds) and the group believing that getting the natives stoned will help them only to spark a case of the munchies!!

In terms of the gore its kind of a mixed bag with some of the effect proving effective while other despite the veteran effects team come off looking surprising amateurish at times. Still the creativity is there at least with limbs hacked and eyeballs removed, while their version of a temporary tattoo is pretty inspired and helped to balance out the moments which didn’t work, such as the death by painfully obvious CGI ants, the quality of which I’m sure even “The Asylum” would be embarrassed by and leaving a potentially standout moment leaving very much like an afterthought.

Due to distribution issues it meant that despite being originally set for a 2013 release it was only this year that the film finally got a release creating an unitentional double header for Roth as we also got “Knock Knock” released around the same time, a film I’ve as yet to see to see if he anything changed for him as a director in the time which passed between the two films being finished. Right now though Roth is very much a director whose initial promise has long since faded leaving us wondering what that original appeal was as certainly its hard to find here.

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