Directed by Eli Roth
Deemed the “Godfather of Midnight Madness,” Eli Roth has made his long-awaited return to the director’s chair after a six-year absence and premiered his cannibal horror film The Green Inferno to a gore-hungry audience at the Toronto International Film Festival. After last year’s poorly received Aftershock and the many rumors and doubts that his first foray into the cannibal sub-genre was going to simply be a loose reimagining of Cannibal Holocaust, Roth has thankfully managed to whet the appetites of even the most skeptical horror fans by taking viewers on a wild and dangerous ride into the Amazon with many extra servings of carnage in The Green Inferno.
The film (which also stars many of the actors in Aftershock) follows Justine (Izzo), a bright and naïve university student who gets roped into a campus student activist group’s ludicrous and precarious plot to travel to the Peru to stop the annihilation of an endangered tribe by using social media on their iPhones as their only means of protection. The plan proves to be successful; however, after an horrific plane crash leaves half of the students dead, the survivors are drugged and taken hostage by the very tribe they were protesting for, and one by one, they become sloppy feasts to the gluttonous village. What ensues is a gorefest of nauseating violence that fans of the genre will love in this fervent tribute to Ruggero Deodato and Umberto Lenzi’s infamous cannibal films.
When it comes to violence and gore, Eli Roth has definitely proved he hasn’t gotten soft over the years as many of the kills are fairly inventive and will send many mainstream viewers seeking pukebags. (And we can also thank KNB EFX Group for that.) Viewers are witness to many impalements and likable characters being cut up in pieces and eaten, but ironically enough, The Green Inferno shows a surprising level of restraint as well. It’s obvious that Roth was aware of the viewers’ depraved expectations and definitely had a lot of fun threatening the audience with a far more brutal film experience than they actually will get. This fact is especially evident during a discussion of female circumcision earlier on in the movie that manages to leave fans of Roth’s previous works in a perpetual state of unease as they prepare for a gender role reversing genital mutilation scene reminiscent of Roger Bart’s demise in Hostel II that never actually is shown. Also, unlike Cannibal Holocaust, there are no animals harmed in The Green Inferno, which will be relieving for many viewers.
Instead of delivering a film that will outright terrify and sicken viewers, Roth is far more interested in adding comedic elements to some of the most grisly of scenes. For instance, an imaginative escape tactic that involves marijuana and the cannibals will certainly have viewers howling with laughter, as will seeing a Spy Kids alum almost get his penis mangled by a tarantula. Although Roth has definitely toned down the “bro-horror” elements, there is no denying the director wants viewers to enjoy the film in a twisted and comedic way.
Like the rest of his films, Roth takes his time developing the characters before making them menu items for the cannibals. Unfortunately, The Green Inferno takes a little too long for the setup, and the ending of the film also feels a little underwhelming and abrupt. The second act is definitely the only act that delivers on the meaty goods that viewers want to see.
Overall, The Green Inferno is a very decent comeback horror film for director Eli Roth and is certainly a loving homage to the nearly extinct cannibal horror sub-genre. The film may lack the commercial appeal of Cabin Fever and Hostel to grant it a nationwide theatrical release; however, it definitely doesn’t disappoint those expecting a solid B-grade horror film from one of the genre’s finest directors.
3 1/2 out of 5