THE GREEN INFERNO
With Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Daryl Sabara, Magda Apanowicz, Sky Ferreira, Nicolas Martinez
Written by Eli Roth & Guillermo Amoedo
Directed by Eli Roth
Had I not known Eli Roth was obsessed with that vile excuse of a "film" and italian embarrassment, Cannibal Holocaust, I may have seen this in a different light. But, I did give it a sporting chance.
Roth's recurring theme of Americans (often too arrogant for their own good) entering foreign / alien terrain or cultures, thinking they're invincible, end up way out of their depth. From Hostel's loud yanks entering Eastern European cities for exploitative self-gratification, to Cabin Fever's forest, with nature attacking with an unseen flesh eating virus.
In the opening scene of the film you're given a read on two of the female college characters, illustrated by the movie posters above each of their beds - lead Justine: French film Betty Blue and her more pessimistic roommate / friend: German drug biopic Christiane F.
Both driven to make a difference and hormones at play, Justine notices on-campus activist Alejandro and joins their ranks.
She accompanies them to the Amazon to protest against a logging operation adding to the dire deforestation issue. Besides hidden agendas, after they did what they came for, their light aircraft goes down in the forest.
Unlucky for them, it is near a cannibalistic tribe! The survivors are captured, caged and systematically end up on the menu (with a variety of fictional traditions and rites). The gore is ample, but lacks a realism (which is probably a good thing), and thankfully doesn't lean towards the real and callous live animal torture and slaughter from that piece of shit Cannibal Holocaust.
Some off-kilter writing flaws include moments like a woman more freaked out by someone having diarrhea than seeing their friend dismembered and eaten alive, piece by piece in a Day Of The Dead final scene rip.
Many would see this as Roth exorcizing his obsession with Cannibal Holocaust, but it also looks at causes that have become very prominent via the current on-line expanse, and focuses on young Americans driven to do the right thing, and as "evolved" westerners wanting to intervene and change cultural traditions of which they disapprove. But what is "culture" other than institutionalized habits? - and we all have a wide range of habits, some good, some horrific! Morality and social conscience come into play - but when you're ignorant, you may not be in control when on another's turf.
I'm not interested to delve into Roth's politics, but I'm sure that has a hand in how he approached this, with all kinds of possibilities like a condemnation of "slacktivism" (many having said his Hostel movies were a take on American occupation in the Middle East).
Amazon Watch and many other organizations condemned the movie as racist and a terrible misrepresentation of native tribes. But, I'll leave it up to you to decide.
Very much a fatalistic film, its tagline is pretty accurate in reflecting its core: No good deed goes unpunished.
2 / C
- Paul Blom
cover images below
more Eli Roth movies (directed, written & starring)