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TIFF 2013: The Green Inferno (2013)

This review is intended for audiences 18 and over. Reader discretion is advised.

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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?

PLOT:

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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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TIFF 2013 Releases Schedule and Final Announcements

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We are now less than two weeks away from when the Toronto International Film Festival tickets go on sale to the public and a mere 16 days away from the start of the actual festivities. On Tuesday morning, another slew of films were announced along with the schedule itself and a long list of celebrities set to attend the festival. I don’t know about you, but the anticipation is overwhelming me. I suppose the nervousness and excitement will dissipate somewhat when I actually know what screenings I will be attending, or it could skyrocket even higher. Either way, this is shaping up to be one hell of a festival!

Schedule:

Now, for those attending, or those simply who’d like to know what’s going on and when, you can find the full schedule by clicking here.

FInal Film List and Programmes:

If you’d like to know what films are playing at the festival, you can click here for the entire list or click the TIFF button in the main menu at the top of this page. You can also find all the programmes offered by the festival by clicking here. Essentially, all films screening at the festival are divided into groups for attendees to better understand what type of genre and themes the film will contain.

TIFF Guests:

Perhaps the most exciting news released Tuesday morning was the endless list of celebrities ready to attend the festival. Amongst the names are Benedict Cumberbatch, Meryl Streep, Rebecca Hall, Josh Broliin, Alan RIckman, Clive Owen, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Aniston, Mark Ruffalo, Elizabeth Olsen, Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman, Tom Hiddleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nicholas Cage, Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, Ben Foster, Anton Yelchin, Liam Neeson, James McAvoy, Nicole Kidman, Felicity Jones, Ed Harris, Spike Jonze, Melissa George, Paul Giamatti, Idris Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sarah Gadon, Colin Firth, Michael Fassbender, Jesse Eisenberg, Sandra Bullock, Chris Hemsworth, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Mia Waikowska, Owen Wilson, Steve McQueen, Jason Reitman, Keanu Reeves, Keira Knightley, Matthew McConaughey, Ti West, Eli Roth, Daniel Radcliffe, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Paulson, Oliva Wilde, Mike Myers, James Franco, Adrien Brody, Marion Cotillard, and Thandie Newton, just to name what I feel to be the most important. And honestly, I couldn’t type any more names. There is a bunch more on the list you can find here. Also, these are just the people confirmed thus far, it is expected that the likes of George Clooney and Brad Pitt, amongst others will be attending.

Jason Reitman’s Live Read:

You can find all the information below, provided by the TIFF website.

The Festival proudly welcomes back Jason Reitman’s Live Read — a unique event in which classic movie scripts are read by contemporary actors. With no rehearsal, the actors come together for a one-take read-through with Reitman narrating stage direction. In 2012, the Festival welcomed Reitman and an all-star cast — including Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Adam Driver, Sarah Gadon and George Stroumboulopoulos — for a live table read of Alan Ball’s screenplay for American Beauty. This year, Reitman is back with a surprise script from a modern classic and a new cast at the Ryerson Theatre on Friday, September 6. Details, including cast and script, for the 2013 Live Read event will be announced in early September.

IMAX Screenings:

New this year, audiences are invited to be part of the action with two official Festival selections and two special screenings presented in spectacular IMAX. The two films will be Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” and Keanu Reeves “Man of Tai Chi.”

Next Wave and Manifesto Announced:

You can find another plethora of titles announced by clicking here.

New Galas and Special Presentations:

Metallica Through the Never: Nimród Antal, Canada/USA, World Premiere

Dane DeHaan (The Place Beyond the Pines) stars as a Metallica roadie dispatched to hell and back in this mind-blowing mash-up of concert film and post-apocalyptic adventure, presented in IMAX 3D.

The Wizard of Oz: Victor Fleming, USA, World Premiere

Experience Judy Garland’s over-the-rainbow adventure in vivid new detail with this IMAX 3D presentation of Victor Fleming’s family classic.

10th Midnight Madness Film Unveiled:

Witching & Bitching:

Fleeing through the impenetrable forests of the Basque countryside after a jewel heist, a hapless band of robbers runs afoul of a coven of witches, in this madcap supernatural spectacle from Spanish genre specialist Alex de la Iglesia (The Last Circus).

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Okay then, that’ll do it for the pre-TIFF announcements. The Cinema Monster will be covering the festival in full, providing reviews, news, and Q and A’s as often as possible, make sure to follow our website to keep up with the festival. Also, follow The Cinema Monster on Twitter (@cinema_monster) and Facebook for up-to-the-minute news and posts, not to mention special pictures and videos provided by me from the screenings. Have a great week!

TIFF 2013 Unleashes Midnight Madness Lineup, Docs, and Vanguard:

We are a little over a month away from opening night at one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, the Toronto International Film Festival. Last week was a treat as the first 75 films were announced, including galas and special presentations. Now, it’s fair to say that the films presented last week were are a little more serious and dramatic, those hoping to generate Oscar buzz and compete for the “people’s choice award.” The films announced last night however, are much more easygoing.

Around midnight (fitting), TIFF unveiled its lineup for what is quickly becoming the festivals most notable, fun, and bizarre sub-competition, Midnight Madness! Which hosts films ranging from horror, thriller, dark comedies, and oh so much more. This yearly tradition celebrates filmmaking that stretches the human psyche, tests the viewers tolerance level, and essentially weeds out the weak cinephiles from the tough. This will be the 25th anniversary of Midnight Madness and this year’s line-up is an outstanding gift to the public. Check out the all the Midnight Madness films here. Below you’ll find what I believe to be the highlights!

“The Green Inferno” (2013, Eli Roth).

Horror maestro Eli Roth (Hostel) returns to the director’s chair for this gruesome homage to the notorious Italian cannibal movies of the late seventies and early eighties.

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“Rigor Mortis” (2013, Juno Mak).

A public-housing tenement is plunged into a dark storm of supernatural chaos, in this loving tribute to the cult classic Hong Kong horror-comedy series Mr. Vampire.

Next up, is Vanguard! Described as “Provocative, sexy… possibly dangerous. This is what’s next.” You can check out all the films announced for Vanguard here. Below you’ll once again find what I believe to be the highlights of this section.

“The Sacrament” (2013, Ti West).

Inspired by the infamous mass suicide of Peoples Temple cultists at Jonesetown, Guyana, the latest film from indie genre icon Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) sends frequent collaborators AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz, Joe Swanberg and Kentucker Audley on a harrowing journey into madness and messianic bloodshed.

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“Horns” (2013, Alexander Aja).

Blamed for the brutal murder of his longtime girlfriend (Juno Temple), a small-town guy (Daniel Radcliffe) awakens one morning to find a pair of horns growing from his head, in this offbeat supernatural thriller from horror ace Alexandre Aja (Haute tensionPiranha 3D).

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FInally, for those of you interested, you can find all the Documentaries premiering at TIFF here. It isn’t my cup of tea so I’m not really sure what the highlights are. If you happen to be a documentary enthusiast, be sure to let me know what you think of the selection in the comments section below.

Okay all, that’ll do it for this announcement. I didn’t think it was possible for me to become more enthusiastic and aching with anticipation after the first set of announcements, but I’ve been proven wrong. The horror crop looks terrific at TIFF this year and I’m really looking forward to checking them all out at the festival. Remember, The Cinema Monster is your number 1 source for TIFF news and reviews!  Be sure to follow me on Twitter @cinema_monster or on Facebook here for up to the minute news. Please comment below on the selection for the festival already presented and let me know which films you are most excited to see. Have a great week!

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2013

All right, now, not to be confused with last week’s “Top 10 Films of 2013 Predicted.” This week’s Top 10 will consist of the 10 most wanted films set for release in 2013. Judged by budget, publicity, and overall excitement stemming from the general public, this Top 10 will feature, in a general sense, crowd pleasers. Without any further ado, let’s begin.

Honourable Mentions: Anchorman 2, Monsters University, The Wolverine, Elysium, Sin City 2, Kick Ass 2, Evil Dead.

10: Thor: The Dark World. The hotly anticipated follow up to 2011’s smash hit Thor. This soon to be blockbuster stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins.

9: The Great Gatsby. From visionary director Baz Luhrmann and starring a plethora of stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan. and Jason Clarke. The Great Gatsby seems primed for stardom.

8: The Green Inferno, V/H/S 2, and The Conjuring. This is for all of you who need your horror fix, a lot like us. Coming from modern horror master such as James Wan, Eli Roth, and Adam Wingard. This trio of frightening delights is sure to leave your pants wet and in need of a wash.

The Conjuring Trailer:

V/H/S 2 Trailer:

The Green Inferno: First official picture.

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7: This is the End and The World’s End. Here to get you prepared for the apocalypse are these two doomsday comedies. Brought to you by the guys behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The World’s End reunites Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright. Also starring Martin Freeman, The World’s End looks like to become another cult favourite. As for This is the End, starring a multitude of comedies best such as Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jonah Hill. This hilarious heavyweight film should be interesting to say the least.

This is the End: Red Band Trailer.

The World’s End:

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6: World War Z. Brad Pitt, Zombies, and based off of Max Brooks highly addicting novel, need I say more?

5: Iron Man 3. The Third entry into the Iron Man trilogy. It features an army of iron men and Ben Kingsley as a villain. Your argument is invalid.

4: Pacific Rim. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro and starring Idris Elba. This monster vs man picture features the use of gigantic robots controlled by humans battling humongous aliens, I’m sold.

3: Man of Steel. Produced by Christopher Nolan and starring Michael Shannon as General Zod. Man of Steel is the highly anticipated reboot of the Superman franchise.

2: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The follow up to An Unexpected Journey. Peter Jackson’s The Desolation of Smaug should be a much improved film and appease those disappointed by the first.

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1: Star Trek Into Darkness. I have nothing to say, I am beyond words with anticipation. Just enjoy the trailer.

Aftershock (2012)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.