In 2013 The Green Inferno premiered at a few festivals, creating a huge buzz – that hardly has comparison in the history of horror cinema – as “the scariest horror movie ever made” (a label that, ever since, has disappointed many moviegoers when attached to upcoming films).
The fact that The Green Inferno only got a worldwide theatrical release in 2015 helped overhyping the film: people, articles and websites speculated on the movie being too gruesome to even get an official rating (which is a laughable rumour), whereas the real problem was related to production issues and multiple reshoots of scenes that came out sloppy and problematic.
I, myself, fell for the hype: due to my inexperience and fondness of Eli’s previous movies (mostly Cabin Fever and the first Hostel), when I watched The Green Inferno in 2015 I left the theatre extremely disappointed. I hated this flick with a passion.
Upon rewatching it for my The Movies of Eli Roth series (leading up to the upcoming The House with a Clock in its Walls), I have to say that my hatred for the movie was rather exaggerated, but I still find it extremely underwhelming and disappointing.
[THIS REVIEW WILL FEATURE MAJOR SPOILERS]
Why? Well, the simple story (a bunch of student activists led by Eli’s wife Lorenza Izzo travels to the Amazon to save the rain forest and, after a plane crash, find themselves in the hands of a local cannibal tribe) is itself inexplicably disjointed and confusing. The Green Inferno tries to pay homage to Cannibal Holocaust, all the while bringing up themes of naïve activism, search of fame through social media, slapstick comedic situations. Is this flick trying to be funny? Is it trying to be gruesome and gory? Is it trying to be socially aware? I honestly don’t know, I haven’t been able to figure that out.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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To me, The Green Inferno is a gigantic mess. The first thirty minutes or so are filled with flat characters (besides Lorenza Izzo, who can’t be described as flat…) busy with annoying, frustrating dialogues that feel like nothing but fillers. Once the activists arrive to the Amazon forest and are on a plane, we finally get a first glance to the horror element of the movie. Or do we? Because the plane scene is one of the most laughable I’ve seen in a big-budget horror flick. The problem is that I’m quite sure that scene wasn’t supposed to make the audience laugh: terrible acting and horrible direction (sorry Eli!) combine to create a scene that’s shockingly inept and clumsy.
However, when the guys are captured by the cannibalistic tribe (whose members have the silliest makeup I’ve seen in a long time) and Jonah (the only likeable character, played by Aaron Burns) gets quartered, the movie picks up for the first time. This sequence is able to generate some real tension, all the while being executed with outstandingly amusing and well-crafted special practical effects. Then again, why killing off your most relatable protagonist within the first 40 minutes?
Although, after the aforementioned scene, The Green Inferno features quite some enjoyable moments, as a viewer you don’t have a single character to care about: they’re all so annoying, especially Justine (Izzo) who’s supposed to be our final girl.
Unfortunately, the good aspects of this film are suddenly ruined and outdone by “the weed scene”, where all the members of the tribe get high and The Green Inferno turns into The Green Inferno – A Comedy! Sure, at least here you can tell the intent was indeed comic relief, but it’s cringe-worthy and slapstick-esque.
Ultimately, the very end of the film utilises the most annoying and tiresome ever in horror cinema: the dream-sequence. Dream sequences became trite in the 80s, Wes Craven made fun of them with Scream in the 90s, critics and audience got bored by them in the 00s… and yet, Eli decides to end his flick a dream sequence. Oh boy!
Even though I sounded mostly negative about The Green Inferno, there are things to like nonetheless, such as visuals and locations. Benefitting from a rather big budget, which was a first for Eli Roth, this flick looks extremely polished and neat. It’s got a really nice camera-work that fits every scene and the locations chosen for the story.
Also, the practical effects are fantastic and on par with those used for Hostel: Part II. Kudos to the makeup department! Besides, as I briefly mentioned before, the few straight sequences (where the direction is clear) are objectively dreadful and tense.
All in all, though, The Green Inferno is still a big let-down for me and it was the first movie that made me look at Eli in a different light. It’s very frustrating because, like I said in my first post of this series, I appreciate Eli Roth as a person, I share his love for exploitation cinema and old-school horror. It’s just a shame that I don’t like his latest flicks and found them rather ineffective and standard.
You can enjoy this movie, though, as long as you don’t set your bar too high and go in expecting nothing more than a good-looking, mildly entertaining B-movie.
The Green Inferno 5/10