[Fantastic Fest '13 Review] ‘The Green Inferno’ Reflects Grimy Cannibal Movies

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Admittedly, I’m not much of a cannibal person. I mean this both figuratively and literally, in the sense that cannibal movies have never really done much for me and I’ve never actually eaten a human being. I can appreciate how sleazy and filthy Deodato made me feel after watching Cannibal Holocaust, but I don’t think I’d actually call the film “good”. I’m much more into something like Ravenous that plays into the mythology of what consuming a person can do to you than thinking it’s gross to see one person eat another. Going into the film, I had pretty low standards, and those standards were definitely met, but that’s still not saying all that much.

After hearing a lecture about female genital mutilation, college freshman Justine (Lorenza Izzo) wants to take action to help. The leader of a student activist organization, Alejandro (Ariel Levy), approaches Justine and lets her know that there’s more ways to help the world that just protesting. Alejandro is organizing a trip to South America to prevent rainforests from being destroyed and local tribes being executed, and eager Justine is more than happy to help. Alejandro and Justine, along with a few other students, make their way to the Amazon and quickly learn the danger they are in. Sure, local demolition companies might have thugs with guns, but if that’s not enough, these young college kids realize that primitive tribes are just as capable of horrific violence as supposedly “civilized” populations.

Right off the bat, the characters in this film feel like characters that Roth never got to use in any of his Hostel films. They are shallow, naive, self-centered and ignorant, so knowing that you were going to have to spend at least 90 minutes with these awful human beings didn’t really get me too excited. Even though I warmed up to them by the end, I couldn’t help but think that this film could have been titled something like “Hostel Gone Wild!” or something equally as lame. There were a few interesting dynamics, like the unrequited love that Jonah (Aaron Burns) had for Justine and seeing all of his romantic attempts quickly dissolved, but the abrasiveness of all the characters left me not really caring how terribly they were mutilated. I did appreciate the attempt by Roth to reflect most modern “activists” being more interested in making it public that they wanted to help while not actually taking an active part in helping, but I think this message will be lost on most audiences.

There’s a lot of humor in the film, but again, similar to Hostel, the humor doesn’t necessarily come from a smart script but rather from the ignorance of the characters. It only took about ten minutes before the first character insulted something by calling it “gay”, and while I know that Roth’s personal beliefs aren’t that it’s funny to insult things by calling them gay, I already saw him use that joke in Cabin Fever. Although a character using “gay” as an insult effectively shows you how ignorant these characters are, I think it’s more indicative of Roth’s lack of subtlety in the film’s humor. Sure, these characters react ridiculously to the absurdity of the situation they’re in, but do we need to go so far as to include a scene where a character has explosive diarrhea? SERIOUSLY? Has explosive diarrhea been funny since Dumb & Dumber? I know I never think it’s funny…not that it’s ever happened to me or anything…heh heh…moving on.

There are quite a few “Oh shit!” moments when it comes to the violence portrayed in the film, so kudos to the special effects team. There are limbs being chopped and ripped off, eyeballs plucked out, and airplane sequence that caused the audience to start applauding. Interestingly, it’s not that these effects look at all believable, but rather the effects look like a throwback to all of those old Italian cannibal films where you see people rooting around in open stomach cavities like they are trying to retrieve their cell phone charger from the bottom of a stuffed backpack. Okay, maybe that’s a little specific, but I’ve found myself doing that quite a few times this week. Either way, the gore is a lot of fun and definitely reminds you of how grimy the classic cannibal movies are.

While I was watching the movie, I have to admit that I wasn’t really enjoying it all that much. The whole movie looked overly digital, especially scenes where we saw digital tarantulas, panthers, and ants, and seeing these obnoxious characters get picked off one at a time made me wish things would speed up into a Thanksgiving feast. There weren’t any effects or gags I hadn’t seen before in countless other cannibal films, but then I had an interesting revelation: your average American film-goer has NOT seen shit like this, or anything like it, at their local multiplex. For most of us genre fans, we can see the appreciation Eli Roth obviously has for the grimy cannibal film, but if you ask people going to the theater on opening night who are on their way to see some stupid bullshit like 2 Guns or The Family, they’ll have no idea what Cannibal Holocaust is and probably look at you like a weirdo. This is Eli Roth’s ode to the cannibal film and he makes no effort to class the genre up a bit, so even if I didn’t particularly enjoy the film, I do respect what he was trying to do and can give the film some admiration. Not to mention that the end credits has a long bibliography of films that Roth recommends from the cannibal genre as well as a closing “PER RUGGERO”. Cannibal fans will probably enjoy seeing the amount of blood and guts on-screen at a relatively wide theatrical release, but the film doesn’t really do anything new.

You can also read Mike Pereira’s positive review out of TIFF here.

For more reactions out of Fantastic Fest and plenty more caps lock nonsense, make sure to follow @TheWolfman on Twitter!

 
  • Golic

    ok, so…now this is the second review for a film I have yet to see a trailer for…is a trailer coming soon? or…

  • Blood-Sicles

    Also caught this at Fantastic Fest and definitely agree with the review. I didn’t not enjoy it, but the cheap-ass digital cinematography (looks more like GoPro footage than what I’m guessing is Canon 5D), the sloppy acting, and the total lack of polish turned me off. I will say seeing the villagers act like tearing people apart is totally normal really bothered me. I have no clue how this will fare in theaters- looked like a solid VOD release at best.

  • romeostruedude

    This statement alone questions should I trust this reviewer:

    I can appreciate how sleazy and filthy Deodato made me feel after watching Cannibal Holocaustbut, but I don’t think I’d actually call the film “good”.

    Seriously? The person already went in with a low appreciation of the film and didn’t care for Cannibal like films (does this include zombies too?). This review sounded whiny and not very trust worthy. I LOVE negative reviews that actually pin point what is wrong and what is the best way to ENJOY what’s wrong with it, like a true professional critic. This wasn’t professional at all. Just very biased.

    • K-Dogg

      Totally agree romeo, I have read 3 very positive reviews that say Eli Roth has made his best film with this one, so I will see this without a doubt.

    • divisionbell

      I agree. This reviewer wasnt going to like this one no matter what.

      And Deodato’s cannibal holocaust was actually an extremely well done film which was way more intelligent and carefully made than one would think. Can’t wait to see this one.

  • joe666

    If you didn’t liked the best cannibal movie ever made (cannibal holocaust), why the hell did you bother giving us a review of TGI. Your opinion is obviously biased, and so, irrelevant.

  • Infectedbydevils

    Yeah, their choice for using this reviewer was clearly a poor one. Also, I dunno about Eli’s ability as a director, I enjoy his movies, but I will say this “Wolfman” guy’s ability to write an engaging film review is, well, non-existent. About half-way through his dull writing I found myself falling asleep.

  • Skull-And-Crossbones

    alright, cut the guy some slack. he went to the fest and saw a movie that he knew he probably wasn’t gonna care for but saw it anyway because it’s a horror movie and he (most likely) had to so he could review it. i’ve never really been interested in those raw-style cannibal movies either. i dont think i’ve seen a single “true cannibal movie” like cannibal holocaust. the only “cannibal” movies i’ve seen are the Wrong Turn movies (which i love btw), the hills have eyes etc. sounds like this is a movie i’ll wait to see on netflix.

  • djblack1313

    i actually enjoyed reading this review. Wolfman (it seems) feels the same way about cannibal movies that i do. i don’t really like them but i DO kinda want to see this movie. so he IS speaking for people like myself.

    • Infectedbydevils

      So, he writing it for people with poor capitalization, punctuation, and vocabularies? Fair enough.

    • Infectedbydevils

      So, he’s writing it for people with poor capitalization, punctuation, and vocabularies? Fair enough.

      • djblack1313

        awww poor little Infectedbydevils. butthurt because someone doesn’t love this movie? let me guess, you must really be Eli Roth himself.

        and it’s hilarious & telling when the only thing you have to back up your troll attempt is to become the grammar police. LOL. don’t worry wee one. when you grow up and get out of mom’s basement you’ll learn that you and your opinions aren’t the be all, end all. we’re rooting for you. :)

      • diapers

        I think you meant to say “he’s”, and “vocabulary”. Nice work. When you try and call someone out for bad vocab you should proofread, ya dumbfuck.

        • djblack1313

          diapers, LOL!! exactly! :)

          Infectedbydevils, care to make a statement?

          • Infectedbydevils

            Not really, I made a typo. You legit don’t know how to capitalize the beginning of a sentence. What statement shall I make?

          • djblack1313

            Infectedbydevils, no my friend. you didn’t make a “typo”. LOL. also the word would be “legitimately” not “legit”!!!! LOL.

            keep ‘em coming little one. you keep embarrassing yourself! LOL.

  • mountain twin

    Talk about cannibals. Yeesh. (good one diaps)

  • oneofthosedeadfckers

    It has to be better than Aftershock. That movie fucking sucked.
    I really enjoyed Cannibal Holocaust and I’ll probably see this if it’s in that same grimy 70′s style.

  • iain

    “[The characters] are shallow, naive, self-centered and ignorant” Yep, that’s invariably the case when a scriptwriter works in the style of Guillermo-let’s get-this-script-churned-out-as-fast-as-we-can-Amoedo.

    Why Cannibal Holocaust is so championed by Tarantino and Roth I don’t understand – they seem to think that torturing and slaughtering living, breathing, terrified animals for the fun of it makes for a groovy movie. But of course, one reason fanboys support extreme onscreen violence/gore/evisceration is to test their own tolerance levels. As people age – as we grow up – as the formation of the developing brain’s frontal lobes is finally complete (which usually takes place in a person’s mid-20s), as life experiences teach us what *real* agony and fear and horror are like, we grow out of life-hating dreck like Hostel and Aftershock. Hostel, incidentally, seriously pulled its psychosexual punches and traded in clichéd homosexual stereotyping, while at the same time literally keeping the boys’ pants on during the torture sequences, a major cop-out by Roth who was unwilling to risk an NC-17. Which brings me to the dismaying, even troubling, point you raise in your excellent review, Wolfman.

    Same-gender Marriage Equality is swiftly becoming legal across the entire United States, as it is in the UK and much of Europe, and it is supported by a huge majority of 18-29 year-olds, who in my experience simply are not homophobic in their day-to-day lives. But Roth thinks they are. And Roth is sadly unaware that professional gay sportsmen and women are coming out, that the US military has eliminated its institutionalized hostility to lesbian and gay people in the armed forces, that gay men and women are responsible for countless acts of bravery, courage and strength every single day in combat zones. To use ‘that’s so gay’ as a pejorative doesn’t tell us anything about a character’s mind, emotions or motivations. It does, however, reek of lazy writing.

    And shame on any young actor who thinks that’s authentic dialog spoken by authentic people. Eli Roth’s genre output is threadbare and tired; his willingness to gay-bait, his notion that all relationships are at core heteronormative, reveal his vision of society to be regressive, reactionary, and increasingly irrelevant.