The Green Inferno
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The Green Inferno

One extremely popular ploy in advertising, particularly in entertainment venues such as TV and movies, is to prominently note the names of the director, screenwriter or producer listing some of their previous works. In the case of the film under consideration here, ‘The Green Inferno’ the name Eli Roth is the most prominent feature on posters, trailers on both DVD and Blu-ray covers. For anyone who recognizes his name, it should serve as either an inducement or warning depending on how you feel about the current trend in horror commonly referred to as ‘torture porn.' His biggest contribution to that subgenre is the ‘Hostel’ franchise with the gratuitous infliction of pain is the only motivation available to the antagonist of the stories. It should be noted that although I do not particularly care for this type of film, it should be noted that he produced a television series distributed through Netflix that was remarkably well-instructed, ‘Hemlock Grove,' a fascinating example of Gothic horror in a modern setting. The subject matter that has created a significant amount of controversy over his latest movie is among the most taboo subjects in the human experience, cannibalism. As human beings, we are so accustomed to being at the top of the food chain with all living creatures subject to our consumption, the very thought of being slaughtered, cut into convenient pieces and presented as a meal invokes a visceral terror that ranks far above most of the plot points used in slasher films. Cannibalism reduces us to the same level as the cow that eventually becomes a hamburger on a plate. Add to this the fact that another human being is consuming us just as to the humiliation factor especially since the scenario is frequently the active cannibalism is ritualized among the primitive, isolated tribe devoid of our technological superiority. Inevitably movies such as this depend solely on the visceral means of invoking terror. Much of the budget of the movie is spent on special effects consisting of ample amounts of fake blood, entrails from a more conventional slaughterhouse in some rather anatomically accurate prosthetics. Cannibalism can be used as a psychological source of terror with the epitome of such use is to be found in the Hannibal Lector novels and films.

Like many college first-year students, Justine (Lorenza Izzo) became deeply moved by the social issues that typically a part of campus life, at least in the more progressive universities. For Justine, her classwork in New York City exposed to the plight of the rainforest in the dire consequences its constant destruction have on future generations. Justine joins a proactive environmental group led by Alejandro (Ariel Levy) and his girlfriend, Kara (Ignacia Allamand). Justine seems to have joined just in time to make a difference. The group is about to journey down to the Amazon rainforest to prevent a logging company in this systematic before station of the area. The devastation extends beyond the old-growth trees in the region; indigenous tribes are being displaced and wiped out. The plan is to take video of the activity to raise public consciousness. Justine’s father happens to be an attorney for the United Nations, and she hopes that the videos were also invited him to take action on a significantly more official level.

The group has found funding with a man named Carlos (Matías López) who takes the group to Peru by plane. Once there they immediately set off securing your videos and staging protests against a logging company. Justine is among the students that chained themselves to the trees to prevent them from being chopped down. At one point the workers call in the local militia opens fire on the students. They managed to capture video of Justine almost being killed and after posting an online that instantly goes viral. Justine concludes that the group NIL using her because of her position as the daughter of a US attorney. Hopefully, no one would kill the daughter of such an influential man. The group boards a plane to leave the area but soon after takeoff, it crashes in a dense part of the forest. Carlos is killed in the crash, but the survivors include; Justine, Alejandro (Ariel Levy), Kara, Jonah (Aaron Burns), Lars (Daryl Sabara), Amy (Kirby Bliss Blanton), Samantha (Magda Apanowicz), and Daniel (Nicolás Martínez).

Any joy they may be experiencing to surviving the class is short-lived when they realize that they are not alone in the forest that they are surrounded by an exceptionally hostile tribe of locals. An arrow kills Kara but the rest of rendered unconscious by a barrage of tranquilizer darts. When they awaken, they realize that they are on boats being transported to the tribe’s village. They are quickly imprisoned, but Jonah is separated by the tribes elder female who proceeds to kill him ritualistically. Alejandro confesses to the others that the protest was explored that he and Carlos were employed by a rival logging company the protest was meant to disrupt their competitors. The females of the group are brutally examined and Justine is found to be a virgin. The tribe's customs demand that she undergoes a savage genital mutilation procedure. Thanks to a distraction created by Samantha Justine manages to escape in confusion. Members of the tribe bring the remaining prisoners food which they proceed to each until Amy finds a piece of skin bearing one of Samantha’s tattoos in the food. She is so revolted by having a friend that she commits suicide. A couple of young men are killed and eaten since the ‘big reveal’ of cannibalism has been made in the audience is going to demand a few more gruesome scenes.

In the advertisements for the movie several of the quotes attributed to critics hail, this is the best movie Eli Roth has made. Under any circumstances, such a claim is highly subjective that best but in the case of this filmmaker that is highly dependent upon Mr. Roth’s trademark cinematic styles and choice of subject matter. His ‘Hostel’ movies have stories that exist solely as a scaffolding support a series of increasingly gruesome scenes. If you can put to revolting gratuitous torturer side and just considered his fundamental directorial style, you’ll find that he was greatly influenced by the films of the 70s. Mr. Roth eschews the hyperkinetic paced editing that many films embrace preferring scenes that linger longer to enhance the desired effect. Even when he acts as a producer for the project this predilection seems to be observed by the directors he chooses. An example could be found in the ‘Hemlock Grove,' which since it takes a more psychological approach to inducing the proper mood the length of each shot is extended to allow the audience sufficient time to appreciate the details that went into its construction fully. Mr. Roth is now producing another hardware-based series this time for the WE network I admit that I did a double take, but I found that Eli Roth was going to do a television series for the women’s entertainment channel. The show, ‘South of Hell’ is currently being broadcast and I have been getting into it for review purposes. Thus far I found this to be an excellent example of the supernaturally macabre style of storytelling.

With movies such as this one, Mr. Roth is relying upon an added factor to the horror, reality. A person has far less chance of being killed by an invincible demonic serial killer and getting lost in a remote part of the rainforest and encountering a cannibalistic tribe. While reports of such tribes are frequently exaggerated there, have been real reports of the ritualistic eating of an enemy. This film is not even the most gruesome example of this niche. If you want to see sickening examples of cannibalism the two most infamous films are undeniable, ‘Cannibal Ferox’ or the best-known tribal cannibalism movies, ‘Cannibal Holocaust.' These movies are both readily available online but it off at one caveat; watch it on an empty stomach and even then have a bucket nearby. Between the violence gore and nudity, this film qualifies as part of the grindhouse revival that began several years back.

bulletPhoto Gallery
bulletFeature Commentary with Co-Writer/Director/Producer Eli Roth, Producer Nicolas Lopez, and Stars Lorenza Izzo, Aaron Burns, Kirby Bliss Blanton, and Daryl Sabara

Posted 01/04/2016            09/22/2017

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