THE GREEN INFERNO Review
Director: Eli Roth
Eli Roth will always be a director that takes us to uncomfortable places while never having a solid reason for doing so. GREEN INFERNO has the exact same issue that the HOSTEL series has: an original, transgressive premise with no real substance or message behind it. The issue with GREEN INFERNO is that it fails to completely satisfy the two audiences who might come to see it: neither people searching for a politically incorrect treatise against white suburban activists, nor gore junkies who just want to see people getting eaten. Roth sets up a potentially deeply offensive premise about college social justice warriors getting literally swallowed by the jungle natives they think they want to save, but never really delivers a conclusion as to why this is a good or bad thing. He also never delivers gore that goes to an absolutely intolerable level, something any fan of all things bloody is bound to be disappointed by.
This is my understanding of sorority recruitment, to be fair
At its heart, GREEN INFERNO is just a campy B-Movie, complete with terrible acting, some truly shoddy production values at times, and rounded off with a ridiculous (but funny) “cannibals eat weed and get the cannibal munchies” subplot. The film definitely has its moments of being charming, but it never crosses the line into truly shocking violence, which would seem to be the whole point of a cannibal horror movie. There are plenty of horror movies that embrace camp and inappropriate humor, THE VISIT is a fantastic recent example, but THE VISIT is also based on a much less transgressive subject. Crazy killer grandparents do not carry nearly the same cultural baggage as tribal cannibals, and when Roth settles for jokes when he could push the film further, it becomes unsatisfying.
The three-legged race joke writes itself
What’s irritating about GREEN INFERNO is that it seems to think it’s about something, while never really having much to say. If the film wanted to be an all-out tirade against Greenpeace style activism, the characters wouldn’t make it out alive at all, but this is not the case. There are plenty of moments of the white characters losing their civility: cell phones are smashed and polite behavior is abandoned, but they never truly lose themselves to the chaos of the jungle. There are moments the film seems to want to be part National Geographic special and part HEART OF DARKNESS, but it succumbs to its campy, predictable tendencies too often to really get a chance to say anything. There are rare flashes where it almost feels like Roth is about to say something akin to Herzog’s “the Jungle is nothing but overwhelming and collective murder”, but he never quite pushes the film in that direction either.
Just so we’re clear, GREEN INFERNO looks nothing like this
The issue may be that the current version released to appease the MPAA holds back the more twisted things Eli Roth filmed, and when an unrated director’s cut is release on Netflix, we’ll get to see some truly disgusting things that were held back in the theatrical release. Sure, there are some decapitations, some eating of eyeballs and tongues, but a total, overwhelming terror of people being eaten alive never really takes hold. There are very few people who are willingly going to sit in on a cannibal horror movie, but those who are have an incredibly high threshold for gore that Roth never pushes to meet. GREEN INFERNO is a movie that should have been shocking and offensive, anything less is just a disservice to the people who were even willing to give it a chance.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend