Director: Jonathan Hensleigh (2007)
Starring: Sandy Gardiner, Callard Harris, Nick Richey, Veronica Sywak
Not to be confused with that Seann William Scott movie of occasionally the same name, Welcome To The Jungle sees two young couples head into the jungles of New Guinea for much bickering and terror. Terror at the hands of cannibals. Which is good. There's not been a decent cannibal horror movie in years.
Welcome To The Jungle sends its protagonists deep into the jungle in search of missing US Governor's son Michael Rockefeller, hoping they can find the feller and claim any reward money going. Why a bunch of idiot kids think they can succeed where a massive government manhunt failed is beyond me, but hey - the movie needs its plot. All I'm sayin' is that they should have visited Wikipedia first: Rockefeller was probably eaten by a crocodile. When a man's disappearance is explained by several kinds of horrible death, you might be best off not following in his footsteps. Welcome To The Jungle has our foolish kids fall foul of the nastiest of those possibilities. Which is fine, because I hate those foolish kids.
Like most other jungle cannibal movies, Welcome To The Jungle is filmed on cameras held by the characters. This, however, is more like Blair Witch than Cannibal Holocaust, since none of them record anything remotely interesting until about twenty minutes before the end. They bicker and cry and shout and misbehave something terrible. It's a relief when the cannibals turn up. Cannibals are always relatively quiet and well behaved, if you ignore the eating.
I understand why it's necessary to make characters in a cannibal movie act like assholes. You want to go to the jungle and have your characters get eaten, right? But you can't just claim that these indigenous people are all merciless cannibals - because that would be xenophobic and maybe a little racist. And since you're not HP Lovecraft, you gotta give the cannibals reason to be cannibals. And you have to have someone say something like "no man, we're the real savages here" (thankfully nobody says that in this movie) and make out that we're the assholes; have the eaten deserve their fates. Which is cool. I'm in no mood to watch racist cannibal movies. But it's tiresome spending a whole movie watching whiny bastards squeal and punch their way through an undeserving jungle that they have no business travelling through in the first place.
In Welcome To The Jungle, the tribe don't have as much motive as they do in other cannibal movies. The douchebag character who looks a bit like Chris Evans steals a skull, but I'm not convinced that its the reason he gets eaten. I think he just gets eaten because he's white and really noisy all the time. So it's probably a little more xenophobic in that respect, but at least we don't have to watch the kids raping shit or bullying the natives into eating them. They're edible trespassers so they got eaten. Simple as that. It's more simplistic, banal reasoning than you might get from a Deodato, but it has its merits.
Unfortunately, if you have seen a Deodato or a Lenzi, then there's no point in watching Welcome To The Jungle. It's less gory, less violent, less interesting, less good and not even as pretty. When you've seen the genre as explicit as it gets, there's little point in watching a watered down imitation. It's good for those building up to watch the greats - or who have never seen a jungle cannibal movie before - but dull and predictable to everyone else. The found footage gimmick doesn't really work and much of the endgame's violence is shrouded in pitch blackness. The ending is predictable.
Like most cannibal movies, it stays with the viewer for a while after watching. There's a primal fear that makes it such a worthy concept. Welcome To The Jungle is perhaps more watchable than the 'classics', but it's more of a starter than a main course. The cheese sandwich of cannibal movies, it's tasty, but will leave you hungry for something more filling.