TIFF 2013: The Green Inferno (2013)
This review is intended for audiences 18 and over. Reader discretion is advised.
Listen, at one time or another, we’ve all thought about what we, humans, taste like. No, I’m not talking about licking skin, touching lips, or other…mouth-oriented things that provide a bitter, salty surface flavour. I mean really tearing into another’s flesh, you know, slowly cooking and devouring the blood-soaked innards. Now, the first thing that just popped into your head was “like a Zombie.” One who does partake in the consumption and digestion of the human body, but not really by choice. What I’m referring to is willful cannibalism, more specifically, the cold-hearted, Hannibal Lecter-esque cannibal. The one who does it for the pleasure, mere desire, you know, the mentally unstable notion that it’s a healthier, more fulfilling alternative. Of course we’d never actually dive into a severed limb with a knife and fork, but the idea is intriguing to say the least.
Now you’re all thinking, what’s the point of this disturbing introduction? Well, it’s simply meant as a transitional tool, I’d even go as far as to call it a comforting agent. As we all are terrified by this disgusting thought no doubt, it does exist, and it does come to mind every now and then. I’m here to tell you that, you are not alone. Everyone ponders this repulsive act, especially those with a twisted, demented mind like Eli Roth. Who, with his latest outing “The Green Inferno,” takes our darkest ideal and conjures it up into a entertaining manifestation. While the film won’t satisfy our salivating need to swish around a mouth-full of the reddest, metal-tasting bubbly. It will temporarily quench our relentless curiosity or at the very least tide us over until its appropriate to initiate such repugnant behaviour, say…the apocalypse? Now, What do you say we move on past our deepest, abhorrent desire and onto the actual film?
A group of student activists from New York City travel to the Amazon rainforest in order to protest a tribe from being killed by deforestation. On the return journey, their plane crashes into the forest near the tribe’s grounds. Upon searching out the people and seeking help, the group is soon captured and subjected to malicious torture.
As previously mentioned, “The Green Inferno,” which had its world premiere at TIFF this year as part of the Midnight Madness program, is directed and written by horror veteran Eli Roth, who with the film made his long-awaited return to the directors chair. It’s been 6 long years since Roth officially helmed a full-length feature and I think it’s safe to say that his presence in the genre was sorely missed. That being said, by no means does his absence suggest that I am going to give him a pass to make a sub-par film. If anything, this stretch has made me appreciate his skill-set and craft even more, allowing me to become even more critical and expecting of his flicks. I’ve evolved as a critic since Roth’s last film and I expected nothing less than his usual, gory, fun-filled fright-fests. And for the most part, his lasting outing lives up to his reputation. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, is your opinion.
“The Green Inferno” is a hearty homage to cannibal films of the 1980s such as “Cannibal Holocaust” and “Cannibal Ferox.” Roth even went as far as to include a lengthy list of the films that inspired his tribute in the closing credits, just in case you didn’t get your fill of stomach-bursting cannibalism. The film itself takes a little while getting into the gritty, cringe-worthy violence and bone chewing, due in large part to Roth’s growth as a filmmaker. He claimed during the Q and A that working with high-profile directors such as Quentin Tarantino helped him learn to expand and add depth to his characters, allowing for a more meaningful connection with the audience. The first half-hour is a respectable attempt at humanizing his characters, but it can become quite frustrating when you’re waiting for the chaos and carnage to begin.
Although Roth has matured as a filmmaker, he certainly hasn’t lost his touch. As soon as we cross into the Amazon from the streets of New York, we’re treated to an unbearably tense situation involving chains, guns, and construction equipment…in my opinion one of the best sequences in the film. Not long after that, Roth unleashes his full arsenal: violence, gore, and pitch-black comedy. Granted, the story’s structure isn’t anything overly original and to be honest, it’s rather predictable. But in all honesty, you don’t watch this type of film for its intelligence or inventiveness. With “The Green Inferno” you’re simply along for the journey, nothing more. It’s not an Oscar contender or a film worth constantly revisiting, and it’s not something you watch as a film buff or cinephile…you just enjoy it. It’s the perfect film for Halloween or when you’re lounging around, drunk, in the middle of the night.
The cast of “The Green Inferno,” compiled of Eli Roth’s co-stars in the mildly entertaining natural disaster flick “Aftershock,” are quite effective. It really is a group effort and the ensemble really do feed off one another, literally and figuratively. The supporting cast, although not memorable, do a reasonable job in the back ground. However, Lorenza Izzo and Ariel Levy are undoubtedly the film’s two leads. They do their best to pull off a serious tone, but it’s relatively transparent. Izzo is terrific however as a new-age scream queen. She’s got the looks and the pipes to consistently and effectively appear in numerous horror flicks to come. Levy, although not very strong dramatically, is down-right hilarious. It’s impossible to dismiss his charm, and there is one scene specifically that’ll leave you gasping for air…because it’s too funny.
It might not be as perverse or deplorable as I had hoped, especially when compared to the films that inspired it. Yet, “The Green Inferno” is a funny, disgusting, violent thrill-ride that’ll leave horror enthusiasts fully satisfied.
The Green Inferno: 7 out of 10.