Originally I was going to watch The Green Inferno straight after Knock, Knock so I could really entrench myself in the world of 2015 Eli Roth movies (though apparently this was actually completed in 2013).The trip to see Crimson Peak ended up getting in the way of that and it’s likely for the best as watching these movies back to back would have bummed me out on Roth pretty hard.
The Green Inferno is Roth’s tribute to movies like Cannibal Holocaust and other gory-ass cannibal movies of the best. When you hear that the guy behind Cabin Fever and the Hostel movies is making a movie about cannibals, your mind definitely goes to a pretty messed up place. It’s not quite as bad as maybe you would think, but it certainly doesn’t shy away from the blood and unpleasantness.
Justine (Lorenza Izzo, also one of the two main girls in Knock, Knock) joins up with a group of fellow student activists in order to travel to the Amazon and stop a group of construction workers from tearing down the rainforest. They end up in a plane crash, then they end up running into a tribe full of cannibals who think they are part of the group there to destroy their home, then a lot of them end up getting murdered or eaten or sometimes both.
As with Knock, Knock, The Green Inferno is not afraid to take it’s time getting to the core plot and, as with Knock, Knock, I feel the movie suffers for that. While Justine is a likable enough protagonist, nobody surrounding her is all that interesting. With the exception of general asshole Alejandro (the leader of the activist group) nobody is reprehensible enough to want to see them get eaten, and outside of Justine, nobody is really likable enough to want to see them survive. It creates an air of indifference that never fully left.
When they do meet the cannibal tribe (which must be at almost the hour mark of the movie), things jump up a billion notches almost immediately. The goriest bit happens within minutes of this encounter and it’s…it’s a doozy. It just goes and goes and that is the moment that will likely lose some people. For me, who has seen his fair share of the red stuff in movies, it was just nice to have the movie jump into high gear like that. Unfortunately it ends up backfiring a little as from that point forward, the movie can never live up to that sequence, though this back half does manage to largely stay suspenseful and seat-squirmy.
As it tends to go with Roth movies, The Green Inferno is tonally all over the place. Not too long after the moment mentioned above, we have a character furiously pooping inside a cage while apologizing to her fellow captives. There’s several moments of that and while I’m always ok with having moments of levity in even the darkest of horror movies, these ones often fly so far to the other end of the spectrum that’s too jarring.
Actually speaking of being all over the place, I’m not really what message this movie is trying to portray. It seems as though the whole thing is targeted towards “slacktivists”, people who think that sharing a social media post counts as being a true activist. But that doesn’t make a lot of sense because all of the characters here are actual activists. They physically go to where the problem is and take extreme measures to try and prevent it. They are as active as activists get. So I’m not really sure what Roth is getting at here. Although apparently he has been throwing around the term “social justice warrior” so maybe who gives a shit what he has to say.
The Green Inferno isn’t bad. It has some memorable moments and a largely successful final half hour. The journey to that half hour however is a bit of a slog and the movie is very scattered with regards to tone and messaging. Check it out if you’re a fan of Roth’s work but largely this is another one to add to the pile of mediocrity that this year’s marathon continues to contribute to.