The Green Inferno Review

Posted: May 9, 2014 in Horror, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , ,

the-green-infernoThere are two valid points of comparison from which to begin a review of The Green Inferno, Eli Roth’s latest attempt at shock and awe in the horror genre. One is Roth’s own work, most notably Hostel. That movie arrived with allegations of torture porn, when, in fact, it was a fairy tale and no more graphic than many of the fables from the Brothers Grimm. As the bad witch of Hostel was ground under the car wheels of the escaping American lad, you could almost hear a mother concluding the bedtime story by snapping a book shut and saying, “And that’s what happens to bad little boys who go to Europe to get laid.”

The second measuring stick for The Green Inferno is Cannibal Holocaust, the legendary entry on any short list of the best/worst/greatest/sickest exploitation films of all time. Roth acknowledges the debt to Holocaust as well as a host of other cannibal flicks from the 1980’s by listing them as part of the credits at the end of his film and including a shout out to director Ruggero Deodato. Cannibal Holocaust remains disturbing to viewers to this day. The rawness and cruelty of the action are still horribly fascinating and grotesquely offensive. The found footage format has never again been used so effectively.

But Hostel or HolocaustThe Green Inferno is wanting in comparison. The movie is strangely tepid and static. You watch it and an hour later you’re hungry for more horror, which is not high praise for a cannibal flick.

The fairy tale morality of Hostel has been replaced by a mean spirited irony. A group of idealistic college students head to the jungles of Peru during spring break to help save the Amazon from the evil developers. After scoring a success, their plane goes down on the return flight, and the group goes from winners to dinner. Unfortunately, that is not exactly how it plays out. You see…

It’s not so much sympathy for the noble savage that motivates Justine (Lorenza Izzo) to volunteer, but rather a desire to be near hunky Alejandro (Ariel Levy), the leader of the group. But Justine, whose father is a lawyer for the UN, may be thwarted in her attempt to get close to her crush because Alejandro’s girlfriend is along for the ride. That’s okay because there’s The Fat Guy who has a crush on Justine, and he’s nice to her, so when Alejandro turns out to be a nasty piece of work who just wants to use Justine because of father, the fat kid then…

Oh wait, you’re saying, “Who cares?” Imagine being in a theater and having that exposition stretched out into a half hour of screen time, when all you want to see is some damn cannibals already!

Finally, the group is captured and caged with gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes, and we’re in a cannibal movie at last, but it’s no holocaust. It’s more like a really bad vacation. Having the entire group scooped up at once and then doled out as portions, one at a time, flattens the tempo and drains the suspense. Roth appears to be going down a list that he compiled at the beginning of the movie: female genital mutilation – check; killer ants – check. Sure there are some useful travel tips like don’t be the one closest to the stoned cannibals when they get the munchies. And yes, Izzo does look finger-licking good when she’s dipped in flour.

But there’s nothing that tests the viewer. The Green Inferno is not the extreme experience audiences are seeking. Roth overpromises and underdelivers, and if it takes a purported sequel to finally see the bad guy get his just desserts, that’s nothing more than serving up day-old baked goods and calling it fresh.

Two stars.

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