The Green Inferno

The Green Inferno (2013)
★★ / ★★★★

A group of young activists, led by Alejandro (Ariel Levy), go the jungles of Peru to protect an indigenous tribe from a company that wishes to eradicate them. This is because the land of interest offers plenty of natural resources ripe for the picking. After a seemingly successful mission, however, the small plane’s front engine malfunctions and so the plane begins its violent descent. Just as quickly, the tribe comes to collect the survivors. One of them is going to be served for lunch.

There is a right audience for movies like “The Green Inferno,” directed by Eli Roth, and, admittedly, I am included in that group. It is very bloody and unrelenting, often goes for shock value just because it can, and there is something about it that is highly watchable—especially scenes where the villages are allowed to speak in their nature tongue and the camera simply observes. However, it is not a potent horror picture.

It takes far too long to get to the gore. Although exposition is necessary in almost every story, establishing Justine’s (Lorenza Izzo) motivation in joining the activist group is executed in a dull and unintelligent manner. The screenplay by Guillermo Amoedo and Eli Roth touches upon the idea that there are dangers in uninformed activism, but it fails to provide the necessary layers to make a compelling argument. Thus, the first thirty minutes are a bore and I found myself wondering when it would finally deliver what I signed up for. That is, the body count and in-your-face cannibalism.

When it does get to what the film is really about—gratuitous graphic imagery—it is somewhat of a disappointment. The plane crash survivors spend too much time locked up in a cage instead of revving themselves up to fight for their lives. This is gamble—ultimately one that does not result in great rewards—because a clog is created in establishing characters who the audience would want to see to survive. While it is obvious that Justine is the protagonist, film may have been stronger if it had been more ambitious, creating doubt in our minds that she would make it through to the end.

In between arguments and horrified expressions, however, are moments when the camera simply watches a lifestyle. I enjoyed looking at the tribe, from their red paint or dye that covers their bodies to the type of piercings and jewelry they wear. I noticed that the higher one’s rank, a person tends to wear more decorations. This is why the children almost always look very similar. One may also notice how the tribespeople use their tools—like spears, horns, and bones—very often with forceful meaning. Using a real Peruvian tribe to act in the film works wonders because everything their characters do look natural. Because they are convincing, the horrific elements are amplified.

“The Green Inferno” does not break new ground but it does deliver—to an extent—the components that connoisseurs of this sub-genre are looking for: the bloodshed, the screams of agony, and the body count. What surprised me, however, is how beautifully the film is shot when the camera focuses on the tribe, their lifestyle, and their land. The tribe eating human body parts that had been torn into pieces has a comedic quality to them, too.

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