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Movie Review: The Green Inferno

the green inferno poster

@lcfremont reviews...

The U.S. was supposed to see the release of The Green Inferno last September, but a dispute over publicity and advertising pulled it from Open Road Films release schedule. Enter Jason Blum, the much maligned savior of modern day horror. Under the BH Tilt label, Eli Roth’s love letter to 70’s cannibal films has finally come to America.

Cannibal Holocaust, the O.G. of cannibal exploitation flicks, contains a movie within itself titled The Green Inferno and Roth’s Green Inferno follows the same basic premise. A group of privileged college students travel to the Amazon with grand, altruistic ideas only to be literally consumed by the natives. Working with his Chilewood posse, Roth and company traveled to Peru and filmed with a genuine Amazonian tribe. It has been well documented that this tribe had no idea what a movie was and they were treated to a screening of Cannibal Holocaust. According to Roth, they found it to be a wonderful comedy and were more than excited to participate in filming. While this might sound gruesome to us, he showed them exactly the type of film that he was hoping to make and this village really brought their A game. In fact, their enthusiasm is palpable and elevates The Green Inferno from generic grind house gore to something more, but how much more?

Lorenza Izzo (Aftershock) is Justine, a sweet, fresh faced college freshman who is easily lured into an activist group on campus. Led by the charismatic Alejandro (Ariel Levy of Aftershock), their new pet project is stopping the destruction of land in the Amazon. This group holds protests, participates in hunger strikes and has exclusive meetings where they speak in very serious tones about the myriad problems plaguing our world. You can practically hear Roth clucking his tongue at the self serious idealism that currently permeates our culture.
As our student activists traverse Peru on the way to their final destination, we are treated to some really gorgeous Werner Herzog-esque shots of the country. Roth deserves quite a bit of credit for capturing a nice moment of arm chair tourism. From the plane to the bus to the motor taxis named after American movie stars, you really get a great mini tour of the city and then you take the tiny plane to the jungle and get onto some sketchy looking boats. Of course, this idyllic trip can’t last forever, but it does last a bit longer than I cared for: it takes nearly an hour for the true horror to begin. Is it worth the wait? Mostly.

image from the green inferno

An homage to Italian cannibal films from the man who brought us Hostel sets a pretty high bar as far as gore expectations go and when you see the name Gregory Nicotero in the opening credits, you get over the top excited about what you are about to witness. Unfortunately, a lot like a guy on prom night, The Green Inferno shoots it’s load early and never really recovers. 

With respect to the doe eyed Izzo, who does a bang up job in the second half of the film, the real star is Antonia Pari, the village elder. She is a true badass with some serious style and she provides the most squirm inducing, gore-tastic scene of the film. It was impossible for people to sit still during this scene and I barely managed to restrain myself from standing up and yelling, “Nicotero Rules!” in the middle of the theatre. One would think that many more scenes of this nature would follow, yes? Sadly, this is not the case. Yes, the villagers take out these dumb kids one by one, but it’s all a bit anticlimactic after the initial shocking death. Mostly, there are a lot of very amusing moments and a few laugh out loud visual gags. It’s equal parts horrific, sweet and hilarious when the kids start applying bits of skin to themselves that have tattoos on it and watching a wee girl run out of a horde with a foot is roll on the floor hilarious.

Unfortunately, there is no castration scene to be had and that may sound like a strange complaint, but if you’ve seen Cannibal Ferrox, Cannibal Holocaust and Hostel 2, you’re just waiting for it to happen and you know exactly who you want it to happen to. There is even a moment in the beginning of the film where a man’s penis is put in danger of the arachnid variety and this just feels like a hint at what is to come, but it never does. Happily, the usual excessive violence against women is not present. In fact, with the exception of Alejandro, all of the men fiercely try to protect the women at all costs and in true Roth fashion, it is the women who are, ultimately, the strongest.

The Green Inferno is a truly fun movie experience for the horror crowd that falters merely because we've come to expect so much more terrifying and gruesome things from Roth and one has to wonder how much of this disappointment is the viewer’s fault. Perhaps we will be treated to that in the sequel. Yes, of course there will be a sequel. Beyond the Green Inferno will be directed by Nicolas Lopez (Aftershock) and the set up for it is contained within the end credits of the movie. Don’t let the initial B-level acting and feel of the movie fool you. Once it gets into the jungle, the movie really finds it’s footing and true purpose and Izzo emerges as a final girl worth rooting for.

Lisa Fremont

Twitter: @lcfremont

Images: IMDb

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