Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Green Inferno

"The Green Inferno" (2015, Eli Roth, Worldview Entertainment, Dragonfly Entertainment, Sobras International Pictures) is a cannibal movie based in the Amazon jungle.

Justine (Lorenza Izza) is a young, fresh faced student at university in New York. She becomes obsessed with a group of campus activists spearheaded by a handsome, driven, older student called Alejandro (Ariel Levy). Her friend, Jonah (Aaron Burns), is already a member of the group and talks her into getting involved in their latest challenge: the plight of an indigenous tribe in the Amazon, who's land is being usurped by a logging company. The group plan to travel out there, sneak onto the logging site and film the company with their phones to raise awareness online. Unbeknownst to Justine, her new 'friends' also plan to use her father's links to the UN for their cause.

The group achieve what they set out to do, but during their plane trip out of the jungle things go wrong and the surviving group members wind up stranded and injured in the middle of nowhere at the mercy of the tribe of cannibals; the very people who they naively set out to save.

It holds true to Roth's usual impressive visual gore and shock value. However, aside from our protagonist, Justine, 'good guy' antagonist, Alejandro, and our 'friend-zoned' pal, Jonah, the other characters are largely annoying and disposable. Watching them die didn't stir any emotion outside of shock and disgust as, to the film's credit, the effects and gory scenes are truly excellent.

Eli Roth has reportedly said how he didn't want to remake "Cannibal Holocaust", and wanted to be as original as possible. He has certainly tried, but I think it is impossible not to end up with a film which mirrors it due to setting, content, plot and 'social message'. Really, the reality is that you can't help but compare "The Green Inferno" to "Cannibal Holocaust".

Like all cannibal films, it's not really scary or tense, just a gross out. And like "Cannibal Holocaust", "The Green Inferno" attempts to make a social commentary that just doesn't hit home as effectively as I'm sure Roth hoped. Our group of vain social warriors may be there to 'save the tribe', but they're also there to show everyone what wonderful people they all are, get laid and get lots of social media attention. And they don't really know what they're doing, anyway.

On a whole, the film is well put together and successfully made me look away for a few seconds, but I rarely felt much sympathy for our social justice warriors and also felt that the tribesmen were painted a little too menacingly. Cannibals, of course are a terrifying concept and reality, but unlike "Cannibal Holocaust" which painted the tribe as just going about their everyday culinary/religious rites, the tribe in "Green Inferno" felt more calculated and sadistic. The clan leaders seemed to be relishing in the plight of their victims more than killing and eating people because that's just what they do. Although, admittedly there was several 'food prep' scenes which demonstrated the tribe's true team ethic; taking the whole lot of them to skin, cook and prepare their first kill. After that, however, they just seem to be killing for sport, barely eating anyone else.

The post-credit scene also left a bad taste in my mouth, it felt desperate and smacked of bad, rushed story telling. Not every film needs another section after the credits.

On the whole, "Inferno" makes a good cannibal movie. It hits all the marks on the gross-meter (it's like a gauss meter for gore) and shock value and also has a go at the types of people who get involved in that kind of activism for all the wrong reasons. It doesn't really break any new ground, however, and was perhaps over-hyped.

 [Image: Worldview Entertainment, et al]