The Green Inferno (2015)

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I can’t think of another horror director who has divided the genre like Eli Roth. Diehard horror fans either love him or hate him and I could never figure out why. Say what you will about Roth, but he is one of the few directors who genuinely loves the horror genre. He hasn’t used the genre as a stepping stone to move up to, say, action flicks or dramas. Roth was born a horror fan, cultivated that love into making horror films, and though he dabbles in other genres as a producer, he always returns to his true love.

Welcome to the village!!

Welcome to the village!!

In the early 2000s, the horror genre experienced a low point. If not for the SCREAM films (which started in the late 1990s), the entire early part of the 2000s could be written off. With the success of the SCREAM films, the genre then became flooded with SCREAM ripoffs. Postmodern slashers roamed free on the horror landscape and it looked as though there was no end in site. Then in September 2003, a little film by then-unknown filmmaker Eli Roth, was released in the theaters. CABIN FEVER played in almost 2,100 theaters and made a measly $8.6 million its opening weekend. Not a strong showing until you take into consideration that the film was only made for $1.5 million and barely did any marketing. But besides the numbers behind CABIN FEVER, this film is so important because it gave horror fans something new and fresh and showed Hollywood that taking chances was worthwhile. CABIN FEVER was exactly what the genre needed back then, and I believe that Roth’s new film, THE GREEN INFERNO, is exactly what the genre needs now. More important, though, is that THE GREEN INFERNO was made by a horror fan for horror fans. This is a film that by its very nature won’t be a runaway hit. The occasional dabbler in horror films will run out of the theater and bad mouth this film to anyone who will listen. And to those people I simply say that THE GREEN INFERNO wasn’t made for you. This is a film that was made for us–the diehard horror fan.

This might just be the most disturbing scene in the entire film!!

This might just be the most disturbing scene in the entire film!!

Everyone, by now, knows the basic premise of the film. A bunch of entitled, annoying, campus-liberal college students travel to Peru to stop a company from bulldozing down a village of natives who have had no previous contact with the civilized world. The natives are written with an extremely broad stroke and are one-dimensional, the college students are annoying and whiny, and there’s of course the “good girl” who takes everything in through a wide-eyed, doe-like stare. THE GREEN INFERNO won’t be winning any writing awards any time soon, and something tells me that Roth is okay with that. This film is Roth’s love letter, and a very passionate one at that, to the Italian-cannibal sub-genre of the late 1970s and early 1980s. After seeing this film, I now know what genre influenced Roth more than any other. This isn’t just Roth’s love letter, this is his reminding all horror fans about the era of horror filmmaking when directors where batshit crazy and took huge risks to bring fans something new, bold, and disgusting, all the while making it so fans couldn’t take their eyes off the horrors on the screen. With this film, Roth deservedly establishes himself among the ranks of Umberto Lenzi, Ruggero Deodato, Michele Massimo Tarantini, Sergio Martino, and Antonio Margheriti–all Italian directors who made their own notorious cannibal films.

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I need to go on a slight side road here. Roth is getting bashed for depicting natives as nothing more than violent, rapey savages (even though there was no rape in THE GREEN INFERNO). To these critics I say–no shit!! That’s what this sub-genre is. It is all about exploitation. White people go into the jungle, some have good intentions while others have bad intentions, they encounter cannibal natives, and the natives go… well, they go native on the asses of the white folk. This film is a throwback to the Italian-cannibal films that horror fans like myself and Roth grew up on. Critics need to stop re-directing their outrage they usually save for social media and stop dissecting THE GREEN INFERNO. Here’s what one reviewer wrote about this film:

“Those stabs at commentary and homage are overshadowed by the fact that the film’s flat depiction of indigenous tribes as feral, rapist savages is just another echo of dehumanizing depictions of native peoples previously used to justify colonialism and genocide. That’s the dictionary definition of “adding insult to injury,’” (by Inkoo Kang)

You don't wanna know what is about to happen to her ... trust me!!

You don’t wanna know what is about to happen to her … trust me!!

Really? Seriously? Okay, okay … I promised myself I wasn’t going to bash other overly-sensitive, outrage-monkey reviewers (this moron also writes that “Roth’s brutal homage to Italian horror is mired in exploitation — and not in the good way.” What the hell does that even mean??). I got it out of my system–I promise. If you go into seeing THE GREEN INFERNO as Roth intended you to see it, then you are going to have a blast. Not only does Roth nail the archetypal characters from the classic Italian cannibal films of the 70s and 80s, but he fills this film full of obvious nods and winks to the audience. All the classic films are represented here–EATEN ALIVE, CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, CANNIBAL FEROX–and I could almost feel and hear Roth having a blast and giggling on the set as he filmed this. Granted, if you haven’t seen the classics of this sub-genre, you will miss out on some of the nods and winks, but any horror-exploitation fan is going to have a great time with this film.

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The film starts off in the safety and comfort of a university where sheltered good girl Justine (Lorenza Izzo) is constantly being bombarded by the entitled, white, privileged, middle-class kids around the campus. After a lecture about the worldwide practice of female genital mutilation, Justine is fired up and wants to do something to make a difference. Her roommate Kaycee (Sky Ferreira), an admitted slut, prefers to slam the campus activists, and when Justine tells Kaycee her plans to travel to Peru to help save an indigenous village, Kaycee is anything but moved. Justine is smitten by the charismatic Alejandro (Ariel Levy) and joins him and a bunch of other “campus warriors” into the jungles. Once their plane goes down and the survivors are taken by the cannibals, this is when the nastiness really begins. The surrounding story is indeed fun, but lets face it, we all came for the gore, and Roth doesn’t disappoint. After arriving in the village, one of the characters gets butchered and dismembered like a cow in a slaughterhouse. He is roasted and eaten by the natives as the others look on from their cage, knowing that all of them are next as soon as the natives get hungry again.

When Natives Attack!!

When Natives Attack!!

The scenes of the cannibals tormenting and butchering the cast are unflinching and make the viewer uneasy–exactly what a good cannibal film should do. It is difficult to pass a moral judgement on the natives. They are, when it comes right down to it, just defending their home and themselves, and they see all white people as the enemy. And why wouldn’t they, with bulldozers knocking down their backyard? The effects are really well executed and you will cringe more than once at what is done to the cast. The ending, though, is what really made me smile. The ending is plucked directly from CANNIBAL FEROX and is a huge wink to the audience and fans of the original film. Also be sure to stick around for the credits. There’s a stinger during the credits that is fun, but is also one of the clunkiest attempts to set up a sequel.

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What I’m trying to say here is that THE GREEN INFERNO is the most fun I’ve had in the theater this year. Eli Roth opens up his heart and shows the world just how much the Italian cannibal sub-genre means to him, and he couldn’t have done a better job at honoring it more than he did. THE GREEN INFERNO is full of the funny and acerbic dialogue we’ve all come to expect from Roth, and is also gritty, disturbing, disgusting, and a shitload of fun. I love this film and will proudly be adding it to my extensive Italian cannibal DVD collection when it becomes available. So I guess I do agree with reviewer Kang above who wrote that this film is “mired in exploitation.” Indeed it is. But unlike what Ms. Kang thinks, Roth does this in the best way possible and gives diehard horror fans something really special. Don’t miss this film!!

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My Summary:

Director: Eli Roth

Plot: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Gore: 8 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

Cannibal Mayhem: 10 out of 5 blow darts

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

Stay Bloody!!!

Roth giving his actress some advice. I'm pretty sure it is, "Just run like hell!!!!"

Roth giving his actress some advice. I’m pretty sure it is, “Just run like hell!!!!”

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Comments
5 Responses to “The Green Inferno (2015)”
  1. John Collins says:

    The problem with The Green Inferno is that the characters are of the lowest common cliches which hurt the genre. The naive young girl ( our main character) and slutty, outspoken but somehow wise best friend. The leader of the activists as the sleazy obnoxious bad guy( the masturbation scene is beyond reprehensible and completely unnecessary. We already hated the character) We even had pretty lesbians and dopey potheads. The gore was amazing as was the plane crash, but without characters with a hint of humanity and believability it means nothing. Roth had a chance to do something special as he has so many times before, maybe this decades Martyrs, instead we got another film of frat boy toilet humor with a lots of gore. Just because he loves horror films doesn’t mean he can make a good one.

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    • Very true, John, but those are exactly how the characters are in the classic Italian cannibal films of the 70s & 80s. The characters were broad stroke cliches that were either “good” or “bad.” Roth wanted to make a love letter to that genre by creating a film that could be taken back in time and shown in the 70s/80s and completely fit in, and he did it.

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  1. […] Over the last month we’ve been treated to the Elijah Wood starrer, COOTIES, Eli Roth’s THE GREEN INFERNO and M. Night Shyamalan’s THE VISIT (review to come). But the rest of 205 looks just as […]

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  2. […] be getting a digital release and a DVD/Blu-ray release. Love or hate this film (I loved it–my review), THE GREEN INFERNO is definitely the type of film the genre needed in 2015. For those who saw it […]

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