Written by Tommy Tracy
Eli Roth is known for his ventures into realistic, bloody cinema, shocking audiences with films such as Cabin Fever and Hostel I and II. These films are some of the most disgusting and brutally gory films ever made, showing us buckets of blood and skin being ripped from the skin. So when The Green Inferno was announced, I became excited. Picturing Roth handling cannibalistic material filled my mind with images so vivid and gross, I almost feared this film being released. So as I sat in the theater, conveniently without popcorn, I experienced a bit of disappointment with the story, character development and, most importantly, the gore.
Lorenza Izzo (Eli Roth’s wife, apparently) stars in this film as Justine, an incredibly naïve and shy college student and this is where my problems start. Justine is best friends with Kaycee (Sky Ferreria), who I can only describe as a sociopath and delivers some of the worst acting skills I’ve ever seen. These two girls mock protesters on their campus because that’s what college girls do, apparently. But when Justine notices the leader of the group is attractive, she suddenly turns into an activist, wanting to save an indigenous tribe of Peru from being bulldozed and claiming her lawyer father can help put a stop to it (spoiler, he doesn’t). That’s literally her whole motivation, but I digress. This group of activists travels to Peru and live streams their activism for the world to see, are arrested by the local militia and on their journey back to Peru’s mainland, their tiny puddle jumper plane crashes, killing half the students. The indigenous tribe hears the crash and the remaining survivors are shuttled to their camp where, one by one, they are chopped up and eaten.
The acting in this film isn’t anything to write home about. Izzo is decent but her character is so unlikable and devoid of true character development, I couldn’t look past some of it. As mentioned, Ferreria is atrocious. I don’t know where Roth found Ariel Levy (who plays group leader, Alejandro) but this guy delivers lines like a wooden board. And Amy (Kirby Bliss Blanton) is also hard to watch, delivering some funny one-liners but ultimately being incredibly squeaky and annoying. Some stars shine, however, most notably stoner Lars (Spy Kids star Daryl Sabara) and nice guy, Jonah (Aaron Burns). I felt they came into this shoot giving a damn and wanted to impress. Roth also enlisted the help of real indigenous people to portray the cannibals and they are awesome. The looks and sounds they make are pretty intense because we are unfamiliar with them. Their body movement and violence can be believed because we have no idea what they say or what their motivation is. Roth knocked it out of the park by doing this instead of getting actors to portray these people.
Let’s get to the gore. I said a little earlier I was a bit disappointed with it. What Roth has shown audiences with his previous films can stick with you. The leg shaving scene from Cabin Fever or the Achilles tendon from Hostel burn into your brain and make you wonder how someone could come up with this. The Green Inferno, while heavy on blood and gore, didn’t have much of this. There are scene where something brutal is happening and the camera cuts to a different actor for a reaction shot. Now, I love the “less is more” mentality with some horror movies (Jaws, It Follows) but when you’re known for gore, show it. If you had participated in Roth’s Reddit live chat, he showed you the goriest scene in the movie. Don’t get me wrong, this movie still has a lot of blood and guts but I was left wanting more (especially with The Walking Dead’s Greg Nicotero helming the special effects).
I have a lot of problems with The Green Inferno. The acting is mediocre, the story is poor and the blood and gore, while it will affect a lot of people, doesn’t hold up to some of Roth’s previous outings. However, I appreciate him trying something new and even with the flaws (and there are many), I still enjoyed it and will definitely watch it (and the inevitable sequel they set up) again.
Green Inferno Rating: 6.5/10
P.S. — There are a lot of people who are comparing this to Cannibal Holocaust (1980) but these aren’t the same movies. There are similarities, sure, but this is a better film by far. Face it, Holocaust is not a very good film.