Internet activism is the worst thing to come out of the Information Age. Where a select few would brave picket lines, now everyone can say they contribute to a cause from the comfort of Starbucks. The martyrdom of MLK and Gandhi has been reduced to the push of a button, perpetuating a false sense of righteousness and a cult mentality. Even worse are the causes consumed by the delusion of self-importance, blinding activists to their utter meaninglessness when compared to real issues. While everyone was dumping buckets of ice on themselves, ISIS raped and pillaged its way into Iraq. Petty squabbles take center stage while true crises are pushed to the side. Even the UN took time out of their day being useless to listen to weak-kneed fools talk about how some people said something mean on Twitter and that it has something to do with feminism. If these people were real feminists they would take up the gun and go to Iraq where real women are being victimized by a real patriarchy. Then again, their fanatical adherence to political correctness prevents them from criticizing other groups while remaining ignorant to fact they are bullies themselves.
The idea of seeing fake activists punished for their incompetence got my attention when I heard about The Green Inferno. Never have I wanted to see a handful of worthless college liberals eaten alive more than in the two years I have waited for its release. Did I find sadistic enjoyment in director Eli Roth’s first movie in a while or should he go back to the drawing board?
I am not overly familiar with the cannibal genre. My knowledge is based on reviewer videos from the Cinema Snob and some light research. Cannibal Holocaust is the most well known and notorious. It was the first found-footage movie, featured video from real executions, and showed the murder of live animals. I watched the scene where a turtle is butchered and it was quite disturbing to say the least. The impact was immense at the time, attaining a cult following, media attention, and creating the cannibal genre. Like most movies from that era, it influenced the childhoods of directors of today. They pay homage to those obscure works and Green Inferno is Roth’s tribute to Cannibal Holocaust.
Desperate for a cause to call her own, Justine, played by Lorenza Izzo, joins a student activist group to fight deforestation in Peru. On their expedition into the jungle, however, their plane crashes and the students find themselves in a situation they never expected.
I went in with the mindset of a fan of Roth’s type of movies. He is not unlike Tarantino, Zombie or Rodriguez with his respect for old movies and an appreciation for the art of cinema. He is serious about the state of modern movies, but his work does not come close to how he carries himself. Despite their content, Cabin Fever and Hostel are peppered with jokey and out-of-place moments that would not work in the hands of another. At one point a virus is eating some teenagers and then an autistic kids starts shouting about pancakes. This ties back to the nature of his contemporaries where Roth is paying homage to his slasher and exploitation influences.
Green Inferno is no different. The opening credits sequence is similar to Cannibal Holocaust and one specific set piece is a direct callback to that image. You know the one. Thankfully, Roth had the good sense to not kill any animals, treating them like pets and giving them a lot of screen time. The characters are archetypical teens from classic ‘80s horror with the virgin, stoner, fat guy, nerd, slut, and the jock if he was a cultish liberal idiot.
The element of fun is what sets Roth and his contemporaries apart. For his generation, exploitation and slashers were entertaining and he wants to do the same in his own using those familiar tropes. In that way, Green Inferno is a horror comedy and the actors knew it. By the time things get dire and horrifying, the tone goes lighthearted with the characters making sarcastic remarks after their friends die. Even the kills are hilarious because of how ridiculous they are. I caught myself laughing when someone’s eyes were gouged out or when another was ironically torn to pieces. Perhaps it is just me, but Roth’s movies are just plain fun and I had a blast.
The cast did a good job and put forward all they could. Izzo was the best, the fear in her performance real in the more terrifying moments. Her character has the best arc come the end that sells home the movie’s message. Ariel Levy played the cultish liberal Alejandro and he was every fake activist you can imagine. He was the kind of character you see complaining about problems that do not exist and you will want him to get what is coming. The indigenous tribe is the real star of Green Inferno. They are a real Peruvian tribe that Roth was able to convince to work with after showing Cannibal Holocaust. They were very enthusiastic on screen and had as much fun as I did watching them.
Some problems are forgivable given the scale and each one contributed to the other. There were computer generated effects that looked terrible and out of place, though few and far between. The practical effects more than made up for it, but the variety was sparse due to the lack of good kills. The first signature death was the best and those afterward could not measure up. There was potential for the very last kill involving ants, but I suspect the production was too pressed for time and resources to do anything more.
The Green Inferno is not for everyone. The horror and gore elements are meant for a specific audience that see Roth’s movies for what they are. His latest is his most entertaining and a joy to behold for any gore hound. If you want to see social justice warriors eaten alive, this is your movie. And for those easily disturbed, Green Inferno is a Disney movie compared to Cannibal Holocaust.