Lorenza Izzo - Justine
Ariel Levy - Alejandro
Aaron Burns - Jonah
Nicolas Martinez - Daniel
Daryl Sabara - Lars
Kirby Bliss Blanton - Amy
Magda Apanowicz - Samantha
Ignacia Allamand - Kara
Sky Ferreira - Kaycee
Richard Burgi - Charles
Genre - Horror/Cannibalism
Running Time - 100 Minutes
Justine (Lorenza Izzo) is a young college student [and daughter of a United Nations representative (Richard Burgi)] who becomes drawn to her campus' activism group, mainly because she's attracted to the group's charismatic leader Alejandro (Ariel Levy). Feeling like she needs to contribute something good for society, Justine decides to join the group on a trip to the Amazon to stop the destruction of the rain forest that would cause native tribes to become extinct. Making a point through nefarious means by Alejandro at the cost of Justine's trust, the local authorities decide to fly the group back. Unfortunately, the plane clashes killing most of the passengers. The ones that do survive are then attacked by the natives, taken to their home for some good old fashioned cooking - with the group as the main course.
After his last directorial feature, HOSTEL: PART II, was released in 2007 and 2-3 years of distribution hell, Eli Roth's cannibal film, THE GREEN INFERNO, has finally been released for mass consumption. Obviously inspired by Ruggero Deodato's LAST CANNIBAL WORLD (1977) & CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980) and Umberto Lenzi's CANNIBAL FEROX (1981), Roth wants to bring the cannibal sub-genre back to the forefront. Like the films I previous mentioned, THE GREEN INFERNO won't be for everyone, as a cannibal horror movie is for those who have an acquired taste and strong stomach for it. As a "fan" of these kind of films and Eli Roth [who still has his fanboys and his super haters after all these years], I can say that THE GREEN INFERNO is a fun 100 minutes that hits the usual tropes well and brings the blood and gore that one would expect out of Roth. It's good. Not perfect or anything, but good.
Roth's basis for the story, besides the cannibal aspect, is his social commentary on current "slacktivists" on world social issues. Roth felt that people who claim to want to help the environment, do ice bucket challenges for ALS, or express anything about Kony 2012 at the time are hashtagging and sharing posts on these topics as a way to trend within social media, rather than doing something to help financially or physically. THE GREEN INFERNO's protagonists are activists who believe in "Don't Think! Act!", going to the Amazon blind in order to stop land developers tear down the rain forest as it threatens the natives who live within the forest. Are they doing this because they really care about the cause? Are they doing this because they want to be trendy and popular? THE GREEN INFERNO does answer that, leading to the eventual chaos in the second half with the flesh-hungry native tribe. While not the deepest narrative in terms of the commentary, I do admire Roth of using this film as a way to express his opinions on how most of us use social media, helping those who fight for these causes the right way, while punishing others who are using this for their own personal gain. Roth could have just made a simple cannibal movie with the predictable blood and guts. But Roth tries to make his narrative smart enough to make us understand WHY he's making this film and why he's using a cannibalistic tribe. And I respect that a great deal.
As for the main characters themselves, most of them are pretty unlikable besides Justine, Jonah, and Daniel. The others are unlikable from the start, or evolve into it as the film goes on. I saw some people complain that there weren't enough people to root for against the tribe [who I don't believe were really antagonists - only in the minds of the characters we're following], but I felt that was kind of the point. By the halfway mark, you realize why most of the characters are even in the Amazon, knowing right away that Justine made a huge mistake joining this group [even though she had good intentions]. When the plane crash happened, all I could say is that "Karma is a bitch." We followed these characters for about 45 minutes and they don't turn out exactly who we believe them to be. Their punishment is pretty justified for gore-hounds watching this. These aren't the most fleshed out characters, and they don't behave as one should during a situation like this - who asks a stranger for weed when landing in the Amazon anyway? But they all fit an archetype that works well within the story.
There are some issues with the script. One - there's an unnecessary use of humor throughout the film. Now, I have nothing against levity during tense and scary situations in horror films. But this is a film about going to a foreign land, almost dying in a horrific plane crash, and getting captured and potentially eaten by cannibals. These characters shouldn't be making wisecracks or jokes during a situation like this. They should be scared. They should be traumatized. They should be catatonic. I understand Roth enjoys using humor in his horror as a way for audiences to breathe a bit during the tense moments, but THE GREEN INFERNO would have been more effective if less was used. I loved the marijuana scene. I thought the exchanges between Justine and her best friend were great because they felt real. But that poop gag, while believable, was used for laughs rather than something done out of fear to scare us. And that masturbation scene in the cage was just - wha? THE GREEN INFERNO should have had a more consistent tone.
I also didn't enjoy the very end of the film. I hate when films leave it open for a sequel and hammer your head with that information. I felt the film should have ended three minutes before it actually did. I know THE GREEN INFERNO is getting a sequel, but I wish the very end and the mid-credits scene weren't there. I liked the angle where it was going, but Roth kept adding more and more. It wasn't needed.
Speaking of Roth, it's great to see him behind the camera again. There is some shaky cam, which I usually dislike. But here, I felt it worked in terms of the guerrilla style of the film and the anxiety of the characters. The locations, especially in the Amazon, were stunning to look at and made the film feel authentic. And the visual presentation of the death scenes, and use of special effects through KNB EFX Group, were really well done. The first cannibal sequence was just gruesome to watch in every way, letting us know that Roth has not lost his taste for the macabre. I think CABIN FEVER and the HOSTEL films were probably a bit more in-your-face in terms of gore and stuff like that, but the last half of THE GREEN INFERNO will make you cringe at times. And I wish the music score was stronger, as it felt cliche and predictable. Tribal themes are cool and it wasn't bad, but I needed a score like the one in CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST that was a contrast to what the film was about. I understand why many aren't a fan of Roth's style of filmmaking in terms of writing or directing. But I think the guy has a talent for giving gore-hounds want they want and gives us entertaining movies for the most part. In terms of direction, I think THE GREEN INFERNO is his best work.
The acting is a mixed bag in THE GREEN INFERNO. That's not to say that the acting was terrible. But there were some actors that were definitely better than others. I thought Lorenza Izzo carried the film as Justine. I really liked her performance as a college freshman who gets caught in a terrible situation due to a stupid crush and her wanting to feel better about herself by helping out a good cause. She's really the only one you want to root for, as she's clearly made out to be a victim of her own naivety. I thought she gave a strong, likable performance and I want to see her in more films. Ariel Levy was great as the mysterious group leader, Alejandro. The evolution of his character is really cool to watch and I enjoyed his performance. AFTERSHOCK's Nicolas Martinez is good as Daniel, and Aaron Burns is cool as the innocent lovesick Jonah. Daryl Sabara of SPY KIDS fame gives us a memorable moment involving his penis and a spider. And the members of the tribe [who were all real, by the way] had wonderful performances as well, considering they aren't professional actors.
THE FINAL HOWL
THE GREEN INFERNO is for fans of Eli Roth's work and probably won't make new fans out of those who don't care for his work. His take on the cannibal sub-genre is an inspired one, as his commentary on the "slacktivism" culture is put to good use with the combination of great special effects for those cringe-worthy death scenes. The acting is good for the most part, and the direction is solid. I did feel some of the humor could have been left out and I wish the film had ended three minutes sooner than it did. The music could have been stronger too, but to each their own. THE GREEN INFERNO won't make an impression like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST did, but it'll feed your bloodlust for the most part.