The Green Inferno
During the 80’s a number of nasty films emerged, clawing their way from the black depths of depravity, depicting cannibalistic tribes who would prey upon any young tourist that so happened to stumble into their backyard. Often based in the Amazon or some other unexplored region of the world, these films rubbed their hands together in glee as the poor souls were horrible tortured and mutilated. Through a mist of blood and a few severed limbs, cannibal film revelled in being violent beyond anyones expectations. If you left these films with your lunch intact, your were clearly made of stone. It’s safe to say that the Cannibal genre was not for the faint of heart. The Green Inferno is Eli Roth’s love letter to these films, trying to recapture the terror and repulsion that audiences of old once felt. Today, is a different time, and we, as an audience, have changed. We lived through the decade of torture porn, and survived the terrors of body horror. How will the Green Inferno sit with modern day folks? Let us travel on , dear reader, into the deep lush forests, and see where this path leads us. Just be warned, here there be spoilers!
Eli Roth’s nasty little story starts with a bunch of activists, who are traveling from New York to Peru, in order to protest about the destruction of forests. It’s safe to say that their motivations at this point are tenuous at best, with little time spent on building up any characters or backstories. What’s important here is that there are a bunch of people on a plane, travelling over the endless green sea of the Amazon. When the plane crashes, the survivors quickly find themselves on the menu for an indigenous tribe of cannibals. The red painted, heavily pierced tribe are a more than a little unhappy with their new guests, throwing them into a cage like tinned goods into a pantry. Like any good chef, the red faced tribals know that the proof is in the tasting, taking the plumpest of the terrified tourists as an hors d’oeuvre. Poor fatty not only gets his wings clipped, but also has to endure having his eyeballs plucked right out of his head. To be honest, it’s about goddamned time, the films at least an 30 or 40 minutes in and i was beginning to wonder if I was watching the wrong film.
From this point on, the film starts a bit of a cat and mouse game, which consists of the tourist escaping, then the tribe catching them and dragging them back to camp. Escaping..caught…escaping caught! It gets tiresome real quick but never really moves away from this formula. And here lies one of the first of quite a few issues. The story sucks! I really enjoy a good story, it’s the difference between art and film. Art can be what ever it wants, a film needs to have narrative. Now if your going to make a really violent and gory film, the audience need to have something to hold on to. You can’t chuck us on a roller coaster and take away the safety rail. It’s too much. What we need is a parable that give us hope, one which makes that journey worth taking. We’d walk through hell and back if we could come out the other sides billionaires, so we’ll also sit through all the sick and twisted shit you can throw at us, if we think that the ending is going to be pretty epic. Nonetheless, The Green Inferno’s story is paper thin, it’s characters mere outlines and it’s ending is as about arousing as watching paint dry.
The Cannibal genre introduced audiences to a world of depravity, violence and lawlessness. It was shocking, bloody and beyond anything anyone had ever seen before. Films such as Cannibal Apocalypse and Cannibal Ferox, were the crème de la crème, shoving us over backwards and jamming their bloody hands right into our screaming open mouths. They were just nasty horrible pieces of film that were as close to snuff films as any of us had seen. Yet they had characters in which you grew to understand. whether you loved or hated them, when the end came for them, you felt something. Because you care, the scariest thing about it was the helplessness you felt towards them. There was often, no way out. I couldn’t help but notice how I felt nothing for any of the characters in Inferno, and as they escaped nearly every five minutes (probably less, but i’m paraphrasing), I never got that uncomfortable cramp in the bottom of my belling, the one I got when i knew that there was simply no way out for a character. When that feeling creeps in, I always know that the end is coming.
My Main issue with the Green Inferno is that it preaches to much about social activism, using it as plot to wrap the film. There’s far too much emphasis on human ethics, which is completely contradictory to the film’s genre. Infernos is about a group of people caught, cut and cooked by savages. You can’t slap the audience in the face with an ideal of preservation, when the people you’re trying to save are gnawing on your leg. The main purveyor of peace is character Justine, who’s motivation are just so unbelievable that I never really did buy into the films plotline. I had a sense of uncertainty right off the bat. I can’t help but believe that Roth would have been better off just skipping all of this nonsense and made the film just about a group of tourist that end up as a human buffet for a bunch of savages.
We don’t enjoy watching people getting ripped apart and tortured, we watch it because it’s wrong, because it’s terrifying. Mostly, we watch it because it’s death, because if there’s one certainty in this short and sad life, is that we all die. When we watch, we are facing death, safely, wrapped up warm and cozy in the safety of our homes. What we want from these films is a resolution, something that makes us feel. Even if we walk away feeling sad, any emotion is better than none. The Green Inferno left me feeling frustrated. I actually felt cheated. If there was one film Eli Roth could have done well, it was this, but he slipped. He stepped on a story banana peel, one of which took too much away from the principles of the genre.
Inferno is bloody and violent, it may just appeal to your sensibilities, but for me it was a great let down. It had always been billed as a highly anticipated love letter to a classic genre, but it just could not live up to it’s hype. Look, it has some good points, with great cinematography, breathtaking scenery and more gore than you could shake a severed leg at, bui it just lacks a little heart. Roth has tried really hard to create something for the fans, but he’s still not found that secret recipe that will hopefully make him a big name one day. One thing you can say about the filmmaker, he’s got guts! And boy does he love showing them.
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