Some of us thought it would never see the light of day, but at last, here it is: Eli Roth’s infamous cannibal apocalypse, The Green Inferno. Filmed in 2013 and stuck in pre-release hell ever since (a brief showing at FrightFest 2014 aside), it’s been a long wait for this modern jungle cannibal movie. Hell, after all that time, is there any chance it could ever live up to the hype and controversy?
Whatever else, it’s a cannibal holocaust, Eli Roth style. That ensures three things: the first being lashings of gore, the second a sense of infectious enthusiasm that’s both palpable and undeniable. The third? Well, one of the first pieces of dialogue spoken by the script is the word ‘retarded’. College jocks and horny thrill seekers may have been left behind in his Hostel, but this gang of dim social media activists and walking boners are your fairly typical Eli Roth brand of doomed dipshits.
As with Hostel, The Green Inferno is most effective in its setup. Well-meaning but naïve Justine, (Lorenza Izzo) determined to prove herself to the campus activists, joins their trip to Peru, protesting the timber industry at a shady Amazon logging site. One plane crash later, she and her fellow well-meaning simpletons find themselves out of their depth, depleted in number and surrounded by jungle dwelling cannibals. We all know what’s coming, but the tension is in seeing all the pieces fall into place, one wrong decision racking up after another.
The goodies continue intermittently, showing early promise that The Green Inferno could be one of Roth’s best yet. Within the constraints of its relatively low budget, the initial plane crash is wonderful, in a low-fi Lost meets Final Destination sort of way. The gore is good too, the first cannibal kill being one of the most brutal, affecting things Roth has ever committed to screen (even if it is bettered by Bone Tomahawk’s version of the same thing).
Unfortunately, Roth has no idea what to do with his cannibals once we’re stuck in the village with them. He deftly avoids (most) accusations of racism, by having his idiot Westerners be mostly responsible for their own situation, but the cannibal tribe are never really scary – and especially not once he lets loose his own worst inclinations and the stupid humour comes into play. Hey, you know what Cannibal Holocaust could have used? A girl with explosive diarrhoea, jerking off in a cage, and weed as a Deus ex Machina! It’s a tonal nightmare, not helped by a fascination with Female Genital Mutilation – which the story isn’t even nearly serious or knowledgeable about to pull off - and a bizarre ending that’s at odds with everything which preceded it.
That’ll be a no, then. The Green Inferno is not a good movie. It’s tone deaf, blows most of its action and gore during the first hour and is filled with dumb stoner humour and one of the most irritating villains (not the cannibals) to ever populate a horror film. That said it’s a laudable failure – a jungle cannibal movie in a day and age where the subgenre barely exists anymore. And it looks absolutely gorgeous, the verdant greenery and lush visuals best viewed in HD, on as big a screen as possible. Enthusiasm and heart will get you a long way - for better and for worse, it’s a cannibal holocaust, Eli Roth style.
THE GREEN INFERNO / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: ELI ROTH / SCREENPLAY: GUILLERMO AMOEDO, ELI ROTH / STARRING: LORENZA IZZO, ARIEL LEVY, DARYL SABARA, SKY FERREIRA, KIRBY BLISS BANTON / RELEASE DATE: 22ND FEBRUARY