The Green Inferno follows a group of idealistic and naive student activists, led the charismatic, but arrogant and supercilious Alejandro (Ariel Levy) who manages to entice the younger, more malleable and quixotic Justine (Lorenza Izzo) into joining his next mission to 'rescue the world'. Justine and her 'friends' trek into the Peruvian rain forest in order to save some trees and a tribe of people who also happen to be cannibals, and they inadvertently find themselves taken as their prisoners after their aircraft crashes in the rainforest. Champions, meet your people...
If only Justine had listened to her more astute friend Kaycee (Sky Ferreira) earlier, as she had correctly summarized that these 'activist groups' were more about 'appearing' to care, and the potential fame they could get in doing so than they were about actually caring about anyone or anything but themselves. With the more radical their activism is seen to be, the more notoriety they achieve among their peers. Hypocrites who were only interested in stroking their egos, whether it be for fame, or money, or to fit in somewhere, anywhere, or to make one feel better about themselves, or more important about themselves. They all had ulterior motives and I'd argue that none of them were purely philanthropic.
Justine wanted to make a big difference in the world and all that jazz, you know, give it the old college try, but she was used and abused by the very same people she'd been trying to save. Usually I enjoy watching outstandingly rich irony like that play out, but in The Green Inferno the irony was too obvious to be satisfying in any kind of way. Eli Roth is not a subtle or nuanced director, from the way he shows how colleges bombard these young kids with all the horrors of the world on a daily basis and subsequently guilt them into forming these little activist groups in the first place, which is true, or to the way he handles the tribe and the violence. Eli Roth is about as subtle as a sledgehammer when it comes to directing. Which is one of the things I like about him in the first place, but that bold approach really worked against him in The Green Inferno.
Eli Roth has made no secret of the fact that he was inspired to make The Green Inferno by the notoriously merciless cannibal exploitation flicks of the 70s and 80s, particularly Cannibal Holocaust, but he really missed the social commentary and horrifying subtext of what made Cannibal Holocaust such a great movie in the first place. There were a few really out of place comedic moments in here as well that took me out of it, and I feel like you need to play these movies straight if they're to have anything to offer other than the shock and gore factor. To be fair though, Eli Roth did try to infuse quite a bit of societal subtext in here, but it didn't come off as sincere, moving or powerful. It didn't even make much sense at all to be honest, unless it went right over my head. Which is definitely possible.
I was surprised at how predictable the story became as it went on too, especially when cannibal movies are the wild card of the horror genre where pretty much anything can happen, but there was none of that primal and intrinsic savagery that carried any sense of verisimilitude whatsoever. Everything came off as feeling stilted, it was almost farcical towards the end, but with a budget of $5 million dollars and multiple financial hiccups, how much can you really expect from the end result? There was gore, of course, but it struck me as being surprisingly perfunctory and ineffectual. Probably because I didn't really care for any of the characters it was happening to. They were all mostly blank slates to me, maybe that was an indictment of 'Generation Y', and the one person I wanted to see get it more than any other, and Eli Roth skipped this persons outcome completely.
The ending left me particularly flummoxed though. I think Eli Roth was trying to imply that Justine had become just as bad as Alejandro had been, if not worse. That she too wanted to feel sanctimonious and powerful in a Mother Teresa kind of way as Alejandro had been. Worshiped as if she levitates above the rest of us plebs with a halo over her head, only her conscious haunts her. I'm not sure if Justine seeing the new 'activist group' that were worshiping Alejandro as some sort of martyr when he was anything but was a way of showing us how easily manipulated we can be into turning self-serving maniacs into selfless martyrs.
The Green Inferno essentially tries to modernize Cannibal Holocaust, but it wasn't nearly as effective or as haunting as Cannibal Holocaust was. that movie gave me nightmares. I can still remember that score so vividly, while The Green Inferno gave me the giggles, and not the good kind either. Watching Cannibal Holocaust is a harrowing experience that still holds up remarkably well today. The Green Inferno is nothing but an extremely pale imitation of it. I do like Eli Roth, but his last two movies have been absolute stinkers. I think he should start working with some better writers and excuse himself from the writing process for the most part as the mans forte is obviously not writing. Eli may be buddies with Quentin Tarantino, but he's no Tarantino when it comes to writing. If you want to watch a good Cannibal movie, then just watch Cannibal Holocaust. It may be old, but it's still every bit as topical now as it was back then.
Written by - The Sentry - 17/10/2015