The Green Inferno

US/Chile | 2013 | Directed by Eli Roth

Logline: A group of student activists arrive in the South American jungle to save the rainforest from destruction, but are captured by a cannibal tribe.

Not to be confused with a lame Italian exploitation flick of the same name, since Eli Roth’s “homage” to Ruggero Deodato’s notorious gut-munchin’ chunk blowin’ cult classic Cannibal Holocaust is simply glossy trash, and should never be considered as anything but a travesty of the cannibal sub-genre of nightmare movies. Roth's movie is a lame turkey indeed.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Eli Roth is almost as reprehensible to the horror genre as Rob Zombie, a filmmaker who claims to be a True Believer, but continues to wreak havoc on the scene. The Green Inferno is Roth’s first film as director in seven years. Admittedly Hostel: Part II was a decent Euro-flavoured exploitation piece that was much better than it deserved to be, especially considering how dreadful the first movie was, and I’m not a fan of the messy Cabin Fever, so it looks to me like Roth sold his soul to the Devil for Hostel: Part II.

His story credit for The Green Inferno might’ve look okay on paper, but the screenplay, with his Aftershock writing colleagues Guillermo Amoedo and an uncredited Nicolas Lopez, is diabolical. Aftershock was a trash-fest, and The Green Inferno is no different. In fact, six of the actors – as well as the cinematographer and editor - from Aftershock surface in the jungle, including pretty young thing Lorenza Izzo, whose pained deer-in-the-headlights look sums up the entire movie. She plays Justine, the movie’s central protagonist, and the menstruating sacrifice to the female circumcision gods in Roth’s infernal catastrophe.

A bunch of gung-ho student environmentalists spurned on by charismatic activist Alejandro (Ariel Levy) travel from NYC to the Peruvian rainforest to save the Amazonian flora and fauna from the natural devastation of ruthless urban expansion. Everything seems to go to plan … until the flight out goes into a tailspin. Then it’s out of the frying pan and into the tribal fire; civilised skin vs. savage flesh, and nothing’s off the menu. 

There are so many things wrong with The Green Inferno, I don’t know where to start. In a nutshell: it's juvenile and puerile. Apparently Cannibal Holocaust is the movie that made Eli Roth want to be a director, and The Green Inferno was the original title of Deodato’s pioneering found footage nightmare. But the two movies are worlds apart. For the most part Deodato’s is grounded in gritty cinema verite realism, and is genuinely shocking, whereas Roth’s production is a hammy cartoon; over-lit, over-wrought, and its atmosphere (or lack thereof) is utterly unconvincing. It’s simply too clean and pretty to take seriously, and its far from being any kind of mondo shocking.

Roth’s uneven tone, penchant for scatological humour, self-indulgence, dire dialogue are rife. One of the students suffering extreme diarrhea while the natives laugh and gesture, and later the prisoners manage to stuff a plastic bag of marijuana down the throat of one of their dead before she’s cooked up in the tribal smokehouse. The pot smoke manages to get the entire tribe stoned, falling out of their tree ripped even, thus enabling the prisoners to stage an escape. It’s preposterous.

Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger’s special effects makeup is okay at best, and at worst as stiff or rubbery and unrealistic as the work they produced for Roth in the first Hostel movie. What’s with that?! KNB have delivered some kick-ass stuff over the years, but in Roth’s six million dollar romp in the jungle the results are mediocre. The editing might have something to do with the lack of impact, so I wonder if Roth was forced to cut anything out to avoid an NC-17? Not that I really care anymore.

And what’s with the no real nudity bullshit? Lorenza Izzo is tied down, about to have her womanhood cut off, and the next thing she’s managed to KO the torturer and miraculously has donned a tiny string bikini.

The late, great True Believin’ critic Chas. Balun, who was Cannibal Holocaust’s great champion, famously tagged Deodato’s movie with the line, “The one that goes all the way.” My message to Roth: Don’t go there, unless you’re gonna go all the way.  

Cannibal Holocaust roasts and eats The Green Inferno for breakfast, picks the fat and gristle from its teeth, and spits the bone splinters in the jungle dust.