“Honestly, I hope they starve to death”
Halloween is approaching, so what better time than now to watch a horror film? Looking through my ever-expanding pile of unwatched DVDs, I found Eli Roth’s ‘The Green Inferno.’ How did it get there? I certainly don’t remember buying it, as I had heard/read terrible reviews about it. But you can’t validate a negative review unless you view the product yourself, I guess, so I sat down and watched ‘The Green Inferno.’ Unfortunately, the reviews were correct. Roth’s homage to films like ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ is derivative, boring, and even disappointing in the gore factor…
Justine is a fresh(wo)man, who takes a fancy to an activist group…or more accurately, the cute foreign guy at the head of the group. The group’s motto ‘Don’t think, act’, is probably what was going through Roth’s mind when he wrote/directed this film. But I digress. The cute foreign guy, Alejandro, decides to take the group on a vacation to a part of the Amazon forest threatened by an evil corporation. There’s also a tribe of natives living there (whom we see partially at the beginning of the film). The group chain themselves to bulldozers, film a private militia, get their fifteen minutes of fame and leave…but their plane crashes and the native tribe imprison the survivors and torture/eat/try to cut their clitorises off.
“Welcome to the jungle”
There’s not much more to it than that, to be honest. If you survive the excruciating first half of dire dialogue and paper-thin characters, you won’t be rewarded. Justine’s friend has some of the worst lines in the film, but thankfully she’s only in it until the group flies to the Amazon. She must have seen other Roth films and thought it’s best to stay put, rather than go on vacation…because that’s when people get their limbs cut off and Achilles heels sliced. The actress who plays Justine tries her best with the material, but it’s all to no avail. I can only remember Alejandro’s name: all the other characters are horror movie stereotypes whose names I never caught.
But hey, it’s a horror movie, isn’t it? Sometimes the characters don’t matter. Of course, to care about the characters means caring about their plight and eventual torture/murder/escape. In ‘The Green Inferno,’ I could not care less about any character’s fate. But sometimes the gore can make up for the characterization. That’s what the latter films of ‘Saw’ relied on. When the plane crashes, I was prepared for some hardcore, disgusting, fleshy gore. I was disappointed. Instead of gore, we get a girl experiencing diarrhoea. There’s a gory dismemberment of a fat group member, complete with eye-gouging and tongue-ripping, but that’s as gruesome as it gets. Maybe my mind has been dulled by the torture porn resurgence that ‘Saw’ kicked off. But my stomach barely turned once, apart from the part where the women were checked for virginity. Perhaps the mutilation talked about in a college classroom promised a much more sickening gory scene, but that never arose (and even if that particular scene occurred, we’ve seen that before, in ‘Anti-Christ’).
“I can smell him”
By the time the film finished (and horrifically teased a sequel), I was left shrugging my shoulders. What was the point of the film? It didn’t satisfy on the levels of plot, characters, or gore. There’s a brutally obvious, but weak, satire of so-called ‘slacktivism.’ Most member sof the group are pretentious, middle class white people who think they have the right to change everything. Justine is appalled at the reality of female genital mutilation, and says that her dad, a U.N. lawyer, could put a stop to it. How naïve…The group seem to be more concerned about social media popularity after their bulldozer incident than the cause they are ostensibly facing danger for. SPOILER ALERT: Alejandro turns out to be working for a competing corporation who want the other evil corporation out the way. Is Roth trying to tell us, like Justine’s friend did, that activism “is so fucking gay?” There is a big difference between tweeting about a problem and doing something about it.
But in Roth’s world, doing something about a problem means almost certain death, mutilation and being eaten by big CGI ants. So should we do nothing? Is activism pointless? Well, history would tell us otherwise. What about Gandhi? He never had his limbs cut off due to his peaceful protest. Even if these teenagers are privileged white people, don’t their efforts mean something? True, in ‘The Green Inferno’ they were unknowingly helping Alejandro earn some big bucks. But not all activist groups are led by a Alejandro! Some are genuine! I’ve read reviews that complain about the treatment of the native Amazonians. They are portrayed as primitive cannibals, and not much else. But what about the doomed teenagers? Their portrayal is hardly glowing, either. In fact, it’s heartening to see these privileged white people tortured and murdered!
Roth’s homage to ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ was flawed from the moment he first thought of doing a homage. Usually, we are just given a remake of a 70s/80s video nasty, and that’s bad enough. But to do a homage to something so infamous will always end in tears. Or boredom. ‘The Green Inferno’ never manages to be as disgusting or horrific as the films Roth admires so much. Apart from the dismemberment/eye-gouge/tongue-rip scene, nothing really stands out as a gross-out. I endured the tepid first half of the film in the hope of some gore that would make me puke. But that never arose. Not only that, but the message about ‘slacktivism’ is half-hearted and blunt. Teenagers of the world, don’t take heed of Eli Roth. Go out there and try to change the world. You won’t get cannibalised, tortured or murdered.
VERDICT: 2/10. ‘The Green Inferno’ is a borefest rather than a gorefest. In these torture porn films, the torture porn is supposed to be the reason for watching. Here, it was almost tame and derivative of things we’ve seen before. Just watch ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ if you want what Roth was trying to produce.
What did you think of ‘The Green Inferno’? Leave your thoughts/comments below!