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.
With Aftershock set to be released May 9th, I figured it would be best to post this review now to give you, the viewers, a better sense of what you can expect.
If I started talking about a revolutionist for violence, sex, and gore in cinema, your first guess as to who it is would probably be right. Eli Roth’s co-written and produced natural disaster horror Aftershock is set for release later in 2013. But I had the privilege of viewing it and witnessing the master himself discuss Aftershock at the Toronto International Film Festival this past year. Roth may have handed the directing reigns off to the talented Nicolas Lopez who also co-wrote the script, but he did it so he could take on the lead role in this earthquake thriller. Also starring the beautiful Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, and Nicolas Martinez. Aftershock is a tamer outing for something that has Roth written all over it. However, sacrificing some nudity and blood for a stronger story and emotional balance appears to have paid off for Mr. Roth and company. Although he is sharing the spotlight, Aftershock just might be Eli Roth’s most mature and complete offering to date, even if his previous outings consist of dissecting human flesh and border necrophilia.
Gringo (Roth) and his friends Pollo (Nicolas Martinez) and Ariel (Levy) head to Chile for a vacation. After they meet up with a group of girls, they begin to check out the sights together. Upon attending an underground night club, a massive earthquake hits the city. Desperately scrambling to escape the collapsing building and the horrific violence inside, the group soon realize that the surface is ripe with terror. Running into gangs of criminals, large debris, and the possibility of an impending tsunami, the group search for an escape.
One of the perks of having a Q and A after a film is the attendees are handed the gift to better understand where a pictures roots dwell. Hearing Nicolas Lopez, Eli Roth, and cast discuss the origin of the film and the real life horror they and friends encountered during the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated Chile in 2010 was riveting. Not to mention learning that some of the film was actually shot in some remnant ruins left after the quake. I’ll post a link to the entire Q and A section at the end of the review.
Aftershock is a tale split into two variants of the horror genre. The first sequence is an honest, brutal retelling of the earthquakes destructiveness and the utter terror experienced by those trapped by its immense force. The second sequence is a embellishment of the instinctive cruelty and animalistic nature of humanity. If the last half of the film wasn’t so absurd and unnecessarily degrading, Aftershock would have soared above what has become conventional horror. Which is why when watching Aftershock you can’t help but feel it didn’t fully realize its opportunity. However, thanks to the fresh, unflinching look into the effects of a natural disaster, Aftershock can’t be dismissed.
Roth is his usual eccentric, seductive self in the lead. He is able to feed off the natural beauty of Chile and the capable performances of his co-stars. I expected the cast to resort to typical horror cliches, but that is one of the redeeming qualities of Aftershock. It tries to dispose of the common mistakes made currently in the genre instead of crumbling under them. I’ll also give a shout out to Nicolas Lopez who handled the massive scale of the film very well. Aftershock is a refreshing attempt at jump starting an over-saturated genre. But due in part to a less than plausible second half and a lack of general scares, Aftershock cannot truly live up to the hype.
I just have to add that Aftershock does have one of the best final scenes and cinema deaths simultaneously in recent memory and also contains a cameo of Selena Gomez.
Aftershock: 6 out of 10. (It might be a 6 because I have a soft spot for Eli Roth).
Here is the link for the entire Q and A.