The Green Inferno

Director: Eli Roth (2013)
Starring: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Aaron Burns
Find it: IMDB

Enthusiastic horror frat boy Eli Roth returns to directing with The Green Inferno, his modern take on the jungle cannibal movie. I love Cabin Fever, mildly despise Hostel and quite like its sequel, so to say that I'm ambivalent towards Roth's work is accurate. There's no denying that his heart is in the right place, but that enthusiasm doesn't always translate to good horror. Still, I was pumped for The Green Inferno - the jungle cannibal subgenre is a personal favourite, and I was eager to see what Roth could do with it.

The answer, predictably, is to fill it with poo, weed and dick jokes. It takes less than ten minutes for one of the characters to describe something as 'gay' and the writing doesn't improve from there. The story sees naive college student Justine (Izzo) fall in with the wrong (or right, depending on your view) crowd - a collective of activists set on saving the Amazon rainforest. Hopping on a dodgy aeroplane, the kids travel to a particularly remote area of the Amazon where they hope to fuck up the corporate destruction they find there. Suffice to say, things do not go to plan.

Not unless the plan is to end up tied to a stick, dressed like some sort of sixties Star Trek extra.

A far cry from the gloomy torture basements and drippy alleyways of Hostel and its sequel, The Green Inferno looks incredible. Lush, verdant and beautiful, the jungle setting makes this one of the most visually compelling horror films I've seen in years. As a visual storyteller, Roth is King - he hasn't made a bad film yet, in that respect. The scene in which our young heroes are led into the cannibal village to their doom is up there with Hostel's big reveal - where Paxton is dragged, kicking and screaming into the dungeons - and, at that moment, I believed that The Green Inferno would turn out alright.

Sadly, 'alright' is as far as it goes. For everything it gets right - and there's a lot - there's just as much it gets very wrong. The Green Inferno is utterly fantastic as long as no-one is speaking at the time. Lorenza Izzo, Aaron Burns and Daryl Sabara (looking like a curly Jay from The Inbetweeners) do well as the most likeable ones in the group, but everyone else is short-thrifted by immature humour and curious lack of tension. The film lost me at its shitting-in-a-cage scene, and didn't do much to regain my interest from there.

The live-action version of The Simpsons left a lot to be desired.

Slightly racist in spite of its best intentions (there's an attempt at giving the cannibals justification, but only barely) and stuck with the stupidest ending this side of Hostel 2, this is ultimately a wasted opportunity. It possesses one truly great gore sequence and a lovely lead in Izzo, but fails to effectively utilise those elements. That's a shame, since The Green Inferno has room to be a modern classic.

Still, I hope that the film gets its release soon. Good or bad, it's a film that deserves to be seen - if only for its juicy visuals - and I'm eager to revisit it, without expectation. The Green Inferno isn't worth getting hot under the collar about, but it's an interesting oddity, all the same.

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