*Warning: This movie is graphic. In order to review it, there may be some graphic content mentioned.*
There is gore, and then there is just plain bloodbath. With movies like The Green Inferno (technically released in 2013 but is just now getting big screen time in 2015) it’s hard to tell if they were trying for something more than the gore, and just ended up with a lot of gore as a side effect, or if they just decided to go all out on the blood and guts and to hell with the story.
A group of college students with the interests of the world in mind (which range anywhere from making sure janitors get health insurance to protesting against the mutilation of women’s reproductive systems in Africa) are granted the opportunity to travel to South America and protest a mining company bulldozing a tribe’s homeland into the ground. Main character Justine (Lorenza Izzo) isn’t quite a part of this group, but she has a crush on the shady leader Alejandro (Ariel Levy) and decides to join in on this trip.
Now, it takes 45 minutes for these guys to even get to South America, and when they do, they actually have a nice protest before getting back on their tiny charted plane to go home. And that’s where it all goes wrong- the plane crashes and they are stranded in the middle of the jungle, only to find that the tribe they were trying to protect are actually a tribe of cannibals. And, obviously, these college kids are an excellent meal. You walk into a movie about cannibals and you expect blood and gore, and you expect the drawn out screaming of the victims that are going to be torn limb from limb, and you certainly get that with Inferno (you may not like it but you get it), and they don’t disappoint. What you were not expecting (and will still get) are the sudden, out of nowhere kills that last no more than three seconds, but the sound is horrifying enough to make you cringe even when the camera has shifted to whoever is going to scream about what just happened. You don’t want to listen to the screams of the dismembered young adults, but you also don’t want (or need) to hear the thwack of the guy who walked into a plane propeller. But you still get it.
The interesting part is that you are expecting the cannibals, and you can prepare yourself for it. When you walk into this Eli Roth B-movie wannabe (at least that’s the way it’s performed, I guess I don’t know if that’s what he was aiming for) you will walk out with fears you didn’t know you had. Yes, I am going back to those mutilations I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, because the movie gets expressly interested in that, checking whatever females survived the plane crash for signs of virginity, and if they are (which obviously our main character is) they must go through that lovely ritual. It’s definitely something you’ll want to keep your eyes shut for.
It is however nice, almost refreshing, that even though you are watching these kids go through this unspeakable horror, the movie is not trying to dehumanize the tribe. Yes these people are eating human flesh, but you can tell that they are not doing it because they’re crazy or because they’re evil. This is just their way of life and they’re living it. These kids just happened to be there and that’s too bad, because this tribe needs to eat them for whatever their reason is (they speak their own language so you have no idea if they’re doing this for worship or just tradition or what). If anything, I hated the majority of the cast more than I hated the tribe. I was actually rooting for some of them to be eaten by the halfway mark.
That being said, the movie is shot with this weird, campy feel like the director couldn’t decide whether or not he was actually making a movie or if it was B-rated, almost student-like production. I walked out completely unsure of what I had just seen, partially because of the sheer, overwhelming violence of the film (Roth has stated that the movie released to theaters was not required to be cut to retain an R rating and is the original film he created, which almost shocks me), but partially because I couldn’t tell if that was a legitimate horror film or not. I suppose that’s why it makes sense this movie was released two years ago and is just now coming to masses.
There were just elements that almost seemed like they were intended to be a joke, and there were so many plot points that went unexplained or un-ended that I’m not sure if they were just trying to keep it open enough for a possible sequel or if they just threw some things in for the…fun of it?
All in all, in this day and age of found footage and paranormal horror, The Green Inferno could have been a really great horror movie, a nice refresher, kind of like The Purge (2013). Sadly, like The Purge, the idea was not used the way it could have been. I walked out feeling more confused than entertained (though I was plenty terrified of things I’d never thought to be terrified of before) and, three days later, I’m STILL not really sure what it was I saw in there. Horror movie? Comment on social justices or the tribes of the world (though there are no cannibal tribes in South America in real life)?
I guess that’s up to the viewer. For me, it’s just the reason I will never be going on a trip to the rainforest, especially not in a teeny-tiny plane.
I highly suggest you don’t eat anything while watching this movie. For your sake and the sake of the ushers who have to clean up afterwards.