Fantastic Fest 2013: Eli Roth's Horror Homage 'The Green Inferno'
by Jeremy Kirk
September 23, 2013
Eli Roth's latest gore-fest, The Green Inferno, fits right in with his horror history. His films feature Americans dumb enough to travel to the strangest parts of the world who then meet unsavory endings, and they've carried him thus far. But where the Hostel films and Aftershock - to a lesser extent, given Roth's writer/producer credit - differ from The Green Inferno are their conceits. This is a throwback to 70s entrails-laden cannibal movies, the Cannibal Holocausts of horror. And, for what it is, it satisfies its purpose, occasionally slipping into the lesser of Roth's talents, but giving us a bite that leaves its mark.
The cast of characters unfortunate enough to head to Eli Roth's Amazon are as doomed as they thin. Lorenza Izzo is our classic "final girl", a college student who steers her life towards human rights activism after learning about the horrors of third world countries. She joins a convenient group, made up of those paper-thin characters, and later rather than sooner, the group is off to the jungle.
Roth's two-film structure is back, the amount of time given to moving his characters into dangerous territory at an all-time high. A good chunk of the film is spent with this group of activists, yet their character development is almost nonexistent when the shit really hits the fan. It's enough to make one wonder through the first half of The Green Inferno if it's really a horror film at all. The horrors do eventually come, and with the fervor that only Eli Roth can muster.
Where The Green Inferno works is in its final half, when the group is captured by a group of natives, and the question of whether or not those natives enjoy the taste of human flesh is answered pretty quickly. Roth digs in with his camera, never shying away from showing the severed limbs, decapitated heads, and flayed meat that paints the film courtesy of Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger. It's awful things happening to actually likable characters this time around. We like these people well enough, we just know the inevitable is dead ahead.
The angle of The Green Inferno that interests most is in the tribe itself, an ant colony of sorts where the workers are painted in red, the fighter in black, and the queen in yellow. Even given the lack of subtitles, the dynamic of the tribe is exponentially stronger than that of the human captives. Roth's version of Apocalypto would be a nice change of pace. Get rid of all the dumb Americans before the film even starts.
But we're given Roth's Cannibal Holocaust instead, and despite the lack of character, the atrocious usage of CGI on some of the Amazon's wildlife, and a few scenes that can only be described as stupid, The Green Inferno pulls its punches well. Roth seems almost subdued in his usage of nudity here, and the gore is practically a requirement this time around.
The evidence of his love for the sub-genre goes back to the last film he directed, 2007's Hostel: Part II, when he cast Cannibal Holocaust director Ruggero Deodato as, what else, a cannibal. Roth hasn't necessarily matured as a filmmaker, he's just latched onto a genre that suits his tastes rather well, and his passions are almost entertaining to watch running around the genre The Green Inferno so suitably fits.
Jeremy's Fantastic Fest Rating: 7 out of 10
Follow Jeremy on Twitter - @JeremyKKirk