“The Green Inferno”
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College freshman, Justine, joins a group of student activists who travel to Peru in an attempt to stop deforestation from destroying a tribe of natives.
I first saw this during its theatrical release. I participated in a discussion of the film with other film fans on Astro Radio Z at that time. Recently, I chose to revisit the film when it came to DVD, and wondered if the initial romance of seeing it would wear off or if it still would have the same impact on the small screen, which is the only place I’d ever seen the cannibal films that inspired The Green Inferno.
Eli Roth brings the classic shocking, ultra violent, cannibal movies to the big screen with this modern homage. While The Green Inferno would not be mistaken for a snuff film, as the movies from which it was inspired had been, and is considered, by some (there are reviews bitching about this all over the internet), to be a watered down version that misses its mark, it really does deliver what Roth fans have come to expect. And more importantly, Roth brought it to mainstream audiences via theatrical wide release. Introducing a whole new generation to this form of underground cinema. Something that many of us genre fans never expected to happen.
The story is set up to be a eco-activist/social commentary, with a group of students attempt to force change using guerrilla tactics and modern live streaming camera phones, to force change. I can’t say enough good things about the plane crash sequence. The direction, the cast, and the effects give the audience a wonderfully horrific experience. The creative blending of practical and digital effects by Aaron Burns throughout the second half of the film, combined with intense performances, and skillful editing, keeps the audience in that visceral fight or flight mindset, which is what we’re looking for in a film like this.
To be sure, the first part of the film, before the activists get to the jungle, seems to move more slowly… if all you’re looking for in this film is action and torture porn. That first part of the movie is supposed to show that these are regular college students. Once the characters get to the jungle, there are scenes which seem added in just to shock the audience, and, at least one scene, that spoon feeds the audience information which, if we were paying attention (and I was) we don’t need, and feels a little insulting. There is enough humor in the film to help prevent the viewer from being overwhelming, especially those not familiar with the classic cannibal/exploitation films on which this is based, giving the audience little respites from the tension and pseudo-guilt of watching such atrocities, even fictional, for entertainment.
A talented cast, lead by Lorenza Izzo, as our heroine, Justine, who gives a phenomenally intense performance as the naive, idealistic child of a wealthy family, who ends up facing her most horrific fear. Justine learns how easily that idealism can be exploited when she joins Alajandro (Ariel Levy), the morally questionable leader of an activist group, and is used by the group. Justine is the only character with any significant development throughout the film, other characters have smaller, more subtle development or are simply supposed to be taken at face value.
So, I liked this film. It is my favorite Eli Roth flick (of the ones I have seen) to date. No, it didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it. No one in the theater where I saw it got up and ran out, got sick, or fainted. Not that I would wish that on anyone, but audience reaction really enhances the experience. Even when I revisited it on DVD, I was drawn into and captivated by the world created by the film making team. I gave this 4 Bloody Marys.