The Green Inferno is the latest film from controversial director, Eli Roth. He made his debut with the terrific Cabin Fever (2002) — recently subject to a tragic remake — and then made the respectable Hostel (2005). However, his career has taken a significant turn for the worse since then, and he’s back with a contentious cannibal horror film.
I’m sad to report that The Green Inferno is another poor directorial effort from Roth. It’s just as frustrating and mishandled as last year’s Knock Knock. Here, Roth attempts to satirise ‘Social Justice Warrior’ culture by way of frustratingly poor writing and an ignorance to implicitly. The whole film is trying to be a funny satire on SJWs, yet none of it works. The characters are written to be intentionally obnoxious and therefore we should feel relieved and joyous when they meet their demise. However, the film gets that completely wrong and it always fails to bring happiness in the face of disgust.
The Green Inferno follows a group of activists who travel to the Amazon rainforest in order to prevent the timber industry from destroying it. In doing so, they find themselves isolated from civilisation and captured by a primitive tribe of cannibals. In short, it’s a throwback to the cannibal video nasties of yesteryear; primarily Cannibal Holocaust (1980) which was shown to the local villagers as their first ever film.
As a throwback, it occasionally works. It’s gruesome, unrelenting and, for some, very hard to stomach. I was fine with it because it was so blatantly unrealistic that I couldn’t take it seriously, but it seems to desperately go out of its way to shock and offend. It’s the tame version of how The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978) had real animal death scenes in the film. The first proper tribal death scene is far too graphic for me to explain, and it certainly isn’t for the timid. Roth sticks to his guns here by creating a gorefest that only true fans of his can enjoy; you’d be fooling yourself into thinking it’s otherwise a good film.
It’s grotesque but not enough to be interesting or unique. It feels like a Saw sequel because of the meaningless gore, additional to its completely mishandled theme. The Green Inferno has very few redeeming features and I’d be hard-pressed to tell you what’s to like. I guess the only thing to say in its favour is that it does successfully pay homage to the cannibal video nasties, in the same vein of Grindhouse (2007) with retro exploitation cinema. However, when you pay homage to a subgenre containing films like Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989), it’s always going to be tricky.
- Reviewed by Luke Compton