The Green Inferno (September 25th, 2015)
Director: Eli Roth
Starring: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Kirby Bliss Blanton, and Daryl
Eli Roth. He was such a controversial figure in the horror community at the beginning of his career. Constantly bashed as being a hack who only deals in graphic violence and misery, a low level clown who has nothing of substance in his mind. It didn’t help matters much that he was a good looking you dude with a bro personality, someone who would fit in at a bar taking some swigs on a Natty Ice. And the fact that his Hostel movies seemed to be cheap cash grabs on the burgeoning torture porn sub genre, with people just ready to do no sort of digging into any potential ideas lurking in the movies. All you could get from people in the way of a compliment about the dude is that he made technically well done movies. He isn’t too dissimilar from Zack Snyder in that way. The personality seems to be the biggest problem. The
y work in genres where it isn’t “right” for a nerd like them to be cool dudes with charisma. But as the years have gone on, he has gotten more respect. The two Hostel movies have gotten alot more respect from those willing to meet it with an open mind and see that it’s got alot to say about America’s involvement in the world. It’s been 8 years since he has directed a movie and luckily, he has two coming out in two months. And the first is a return to well done brutality, but with a more cinematic nostalgia to it. But a niche nostalgia.
Eli is a big horror buff. Despite your feelings on his movies, the dude has an almost Tarantino level knowledge of the genre. And like that man, he has a big appetite for off the beaten path material. Low budget horror from around the world. And one of those sub genres he was a big fan of was the Italian cannibal genre. A real sleazy, low budget and nasty genre that was more about violence than real scares. Real niche stuff, even within horror. And with a little more clout to his name than 10 years ago, he decided to make his own little version of that kind of movie. But of course, with his own stamp on it.
Here, we follow a young college girl named Justine (Izzo). She has a desire to do some good. But she doesn’t know how to do it. Then, she comes across an activist group at school and enlists with them. And it just so happens they have a mission to go to South America to try and stop a company from uprooting and destroying an untouched by the world native group. Being an Eli Roth film, things go South and brutality is dished out without prejudice.
This is a very similar plot line from Eli. There’s no doubt about that. Having a bunch of silly kids go off to a foreign land to get killed by a vicious native group describes 3 of his 5 movies. But what sets this apart from those other two is the thematic reasoning behind the plots. In the Hostels, he was using that story to tell a story that really was a story about America’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here, he’s telling a story about how ignorant and self righteous the current wave of PC policing young liberals are. He got fed up at seeing kids who have never left their own home without a phone and a car paid for by Mommy/Daddy acting like they know what’s what in the world.
By having them decide to fight for a group that would eat them alive without question because in their closed off world view it’s the right thing to do, he’s making a not too subtle point about these kinds of people. It’s a gloriously silly and uber violent story to tell. And it’s nice because you wanna see these dumb shits get some kind of comeuppance but when the violence comes, it’s too harsh for us to be rooting for it anymore. That’s an amazing little trick he plays. In horror you want to have the victims be likable for us to not want them to die. But here he goes some far with the violence and makes it so horrifically brutal that you don’t need that.
Conceptually the movie works. The ideas are fine and the story is simple enough. But the movie is a bit rough in the execution of some elements. You can see the rust on the man from being gone for so long. It’s been 8 years since his last movie but this was made 2 years ago and delayed due to financial issues. So a 6 year gap took a little toll on the man. For one, the first act is rough as fuck. The acting is not too great aside from Izzo. Sky Fereirra is in this and she is awful. Like, next level bad. Camera’s should run far from her, that’s how little screen presence she has. And the lead activist she meets is not great either, but that may be because he seemingly has a language barrier going on. And the dialogue is rough enough that even more talented actors would have had a hard time of it. But when the movie gets to South America, it picks up. And when they meet the cannibals, it kicks into overdrive. That’s the best part of the movie, where there is no issues from me. It’s brutal and scary and unrelenting. The third act has issues too, with some silly decisions by the Izzo’s character. And the resolution is kinda sloppy as all hell, making some story decisions that kinda muddle the message because it’s so not natural a decision. Unlike the Hostel movies, the story is really rough and kinda patchworked together. It’s sad cause it denigrates the quality of the movie significantly. But the fact that the movie is watchable and impactful at all is a testament to Roth’s talents that he was able to wring enough great stuff together to overcome some deficiencies.
It’s been too long between projects from Roth. I know he was busy acting and producing and writing other movies, but it’s still a shame because he has such a knack for bringing some crazy violence onto screens with some heft to it. And his first movie back, it’s a bit of a shame that it’s a rough movie with some rust on it. And luckily enough, we don’t have to wait too long for another movie from him. Just a few weeks to go. Hopefully it’s a step up from this one and works on a complete level. But as is, this is a highly enjoyable yet brutal movie that won’t work for a lot of people. But if this sounds interesting enough to you, give it a go.