It’s hard not admire a director that does their own thing. Eli Roth puts a lot of love into his work
and wears his influences proudly. In Cabin Fever we saw shades of Raimi and Cronenberg,
while Hostel has echoes of Miike and Argento. And although the inspirations are apparent, Roth
succeeds where many fail when it comes to showing off their genre roots: the films are uniquely
The Green Inferno is no exception. Roth’s love of old school Italian cannibal flicks, like Rugerro
Deodato’s infamous Cannibal Holocaust, shines through every blood-soaked shot. However, it
never feels like a complete rip-off of its predecessors.
The film follows a group of young, naive “social justice warrior” types, as they venture from the
comforts of their pristine upper-echelon college campus to the Amazonian jungle. Their protest
is short-lived, though, when their plane crashes, pitching them into a world of cannibalistic
savagery perpetrated by the very tribe they set out to defend.
Similar to the structure of Roth’s previous films there’s a lot of plodding along, while our
character’s engage in some fairly shallow dialogue, and a metric-ton of foreshadowing in the
first half of the film (e.g. there’s lecture on female circumcision and some nasty ants that come
back to haunt everyone). However, where Hostel’s slow-burn start serves the narrative well, it’s
not as effective in The Green Inferno. The reason being that by the time the first victim is cut
into quarters, we’re no closer to the survivors than when we first meet them on a hunger strike
for underpaid janitors.
That’s not to say, however, that the performances are bad. The fearless Lorenza Izzo does a
fantastic job of playing the naïve, but willful Justine, and Ariel Levy goes full bore with the
charismatic and later reprehensible Alejandro. The issue lies within the script. Once the plane
crashes the film hits 100mph and doesn’t stop until the audience is crying on the floor, leaving
little room for further character development.
However, that is not to say the film is without its merits. The cinematography is beautiful.
Packed with lush aerial shots of the jungle, and stunning wide shots of the river bank, the viewer
is immersed in the environment—never once did I think, “This is a studio back lot.” Also, there
are several moments dripping with tension. This is most notable when our activists wake up as
they’re transported from the wreckage to the tribe’s village. Shots of heads and decayed bodies
on pikes whip by our eyes, interspersed with close-ups of the villagers, happily dragging our
survivors into hell is so effective, I felt my own stomach clench up.
The rest of the film following this moment is an endurance test. In some ways it almost felt like
Roth is asking the viewer, “How much can you take before you look away?” The violence is as
harsh as the rumors make it seem and is definitely not for anyone that’s squeamish.
Overall, I’d recommend The Green Inferno to fans of Roth’s work and those who like their
cinema visceral and unapologetic. The film taps into the exploitative and unflinching nature of
its man-eating-man cinematic counterparts without suffering from being a cut-and-paste film,
and will definitely satisfy even the most jaded splatter fan.