I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have a love/hate relationship with horror. I love its ingenuity and its ability to ponder the greater mysteries from behind a gory veil, but I’m realistic, I can enjoy entertainment horror when it comes pounding my way, and yet, I have little place in my heart for lazy horror. And that’s just what Eli Roth’s The Green inferno is.
A group of do-gooders rush to the amazon rainforest in order to disrupt forestry that will destroy a rarely seen tribe of natives. After a series of mishaps and an unfortunate mix-up, the group find themselves at the mercy of a vicious tribe of cannibals. This squandered ode to classic 70’s cannibal films like Cannibal Holocaust is the horror auteur’s latest and perhaps most disappointing feature to date. Taking the tried and tested formula of a group of twenty-something’s + adventure = terror and brutal dispatch, Roth seems shamelessly at ease with letting his feature trundle along on the road to mediocrity.
My main issue with the film lies in the fact it seems like a glorified excuse to let legendary gore craftsmen Howard Berger and Gregory Nicotero off the leash in a gleefully gory escapade. Make no doubt about it; there are some genius moments of brutality and sedition that will turn the stomachs of the most weathered horror fans. And the scarlet-skinned cannibals of Roth’s jungle nightmare are something to behold. But that’s the problem. Roth makes minimal attempts at backing up his visuals with narrative, style, or substance – which are all forsaken in exchange for what can only be referred to as a gore-coaster.
Saying that there’s an upsetting kind of irony and humour (of the blackest kind) at work here. There are moments, as with all Roth’s films, that will have you staggered on the peak between laughing and grimacing and that’s something few directors can orchestrate: panic-stricken girls having bouts of explosive diarrhoea in cages with their friends, hordes of cannibals with Emo Philips hair doos racing through the jungle. Tension erupts in moments when we think the more likable individuals of the bunch will be fucked up beyond all recognition, but generally dissipates in a cloud of guts and (dare I say) glory.
Like Hostel Part 2 this feels like more of the same, and raises a certain question as to Roth’s actual legitimacy as a horror icon. The Green Inferno does however sport one of the most ludicrous yet hilarious and enjoyable cannabis extravaganzas committed to horror, I won’t say anything because I don’t want to ruin one of the more enjoyable aspects of the film, but its shamelessly ridiculously stupid and kind-of lovable simply for that. Maybe I’ve touched on Roth’s particular brand of genius there. Maybe if you ignore the silliness of it all, the black humour and lack of likable character, there’s a fun way to spend an hour and a bit. Then again, maybe not.
The Green Inferno is as dumb as its characters and irritating in its lack of flare. What it surrenders in story it attempts to reclaim in sheer break-neck gore-splattered tension. Though it works to some degree this is an ultimately lacklustre project.
Dir: Eli Roth
Stars: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Aaron Burns