I can smell them cooking my friend!
Year Released : 2013
Director : Eli Roth
Cast : Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Daryl Sabara, Kirby Banton, Magda Apanowicz, Nicolas Martinez, Aaron Burns and Ignacia Allaman
Every once in a while you hear about a film and you just know that it’s going to be controversial, and that’s how I felt when I first heard about Eli Roth’s Green Inferno, which is many ways seems very similar to the first ever found footage style movie, Cannibal Holocaust.
I often mind myself enjoying films that are deemed controversial more than your stereotypical films. These are the films that push the boundaries and make you really experience something relatively new and exciting. This also helps with the films being original and you can tell that if a lot of people are getting offended then it’s something that they haven’t seen before, and that is always exciting.
The film also stars Lorenza Izzo, an actress who was fantastic in “Knock Knock”, another Eli Roth film and a contender for my top ten of 2015. Her portrayal in that was magnetic and if she is as good in Green Inferno then I think that this will be a decent film.
Famous last words of course.
Justine (Izzo) is awoken one morning by a protest group led by Alejandro (Levy) outside of her room. After investigating she realises that it’s a group trying to stop the destruction of part of the Amazon and more specifically the home of a native tribe. Justine decides to attend the group to find out more and signs up for a trip down to Peru, a trip designed to show the word just what the destruction crew are doing and how they treat people who protest. The group successfully completes their protest and broadcast it to the world, but Justine is unimpressed as she is purposefully given a lock that wouldn’t shut and is seemingly set up to be a martyr, much to the disgust of Daniel (Martinez).
The group are let go and board the plane to take them back to the main airport, but the front of plane explodes midflight and they crash land in the middle of the Amazon. Several team members are killed on impact, and others notice that a group are heading towards them. Several of the team are shot with darts and collapse, whereas others are outright killed by bows and arrows. The surviving group members are taken to the village of the tribe that they were protesting for earlier in the film.
Whilst most of the surviving group members are placed into a cage, Jonah (Burns) is taken to a alter and although everything seems find at first, a village elder comes, gouges out his eyes and cuts off his tongue before eating them. Screaming in pain, Jonah’s limbs are then amputated before he is finally beheaded.
The rest of the group knows that they must find a way to escape, but with tranqualiser-armed villagers watching them, there doesn’t appear to be an easy way out and it isn’t long before the infighting starts.
Genuinely controversial or false hype?
For a long time during the run time of just shy of 100 minutes (opening credits to the start of the end credits), I really found myself getting bored and there wasn’t really a lot happening. I just didn’t see why the film was deemed that controversial, although I obviously knew what was to come. The first half of the film is fairly uninteresting and takes a long time to get going, but then the plane crashes and the film turns into a visceral and far more exciting turn.
I probably wouldn’t go as far as saying the film was anything like the controversy suggested it was, but I can also see why some people would take a disliking to it as there are several very disturbing scenes once they reach the village. For example, Jonah’s gurgled screams of agony throughout the scene where he is chopped into small pieces is haunting, another character’s suicide due to the situation catches you, and you feel genuine fear for these characters.
The fear and horror element of the film doesn’t really come from the fact that they get chopped into pieces, and it’s certainly not torture porn, it’s the human emotion part of when the characters are trapped in the cage and knowing what’s coming, whilst also knowing that they are relatively powerless to stop it, that brings the true level of fear to the film. With less engaging characters this would have probably slipped into the realm of torture porn.
Much like classic horror film “The Fly”, the characters make choices that they wouldn’t normally make out of pure panic. For example, one character manages to escape the cage but without paying attention to his surroundings, he runs straight into a crowd of several dozen of the villagers and is devoured like zombies at a feast of brains. It’s a true reaction because if you’re panicked and trying to run, you’re less likely to pay attention to your surroundings. Without telling you which character it is and ruining it for you, the pure terrified nature is perfectly captured by the actor in question.
The character development throughout is strong, and for me the most enjoyable characters to watch because their huge swing in personality are Lars and Daniel, played by Daryl Sabara and Nicolas Martinez respectively. However, despite them standing out in terms of acting ability, the most interesting character has to go to Alejando, who starts off as a mildly annoying character, but then he turns into more and more of a dick as the film goes on. To sum him up, when the characters are talking about needing time to escape, he comes out with “Look, it’s good they ate Josh first. He should last them almost a week.” The characters on the screen give a great disgusted look at him and it works so well. Just when you think he can’t stoop any lower, he surprises you.
Infact, the characters are by far the best part about the film and even the villagers are quite intriguing to watch as when they’re not actually eating or chasing people, they act like a normal society. They chat to each other, they have grandparents explaining things to their grandchildren, they sing, so on and so forth. They’re shown to be relatively normal (for the situation) and I found that quite interesting as it would have been far, far too easy to just show them as only being cannibals and having nothing else to them, so fair play to those involved for not making them one dimensional.
And finally on the positive side, as ever with an Eli Roth film it’s about the gore, and the film certainly uses it to it’s advantage, although in a relatively realistic, there is still something extremely unnerving about the way that certain characters die, especially Jonah. At that point you’re not entirely sure exactly how brutal that the deaths will be, but each one is ferocious in nature, and even the suicide of one of the characters is captivating.
All of that being said, whilst the second half of the film is engaging and emotionally charged, the first half just leaves me feeling a bit “meh” and in all honesty, you’re just sat there waiting for the crash and everything thereafter to happen. Because of this I felt really unengaged for the first 45 or so minutes and it is definitely a slow build. Granted, they used this time to develop the characters and they do that well, but let’s face it, if you’re watching this you’re only watching it for one reason and the first 2/5 of the film seems to take a very long time to seemingly get anyway.
However, that is really my only major fault with the film really. I can’t think of too much more that I didn’t like.
Despite a bit of a slow start, Green Inferno really catches you after the 45 minute mark with brutal violence, intriguing character relationships and realistic gore.
Let’s face it, there’s only one reason people are going to watch this film and that is the violence and barbaric scenes of death, and if that’s what you’re after then you won’t be disappointed….after the first 40 minutes.
Based on that I have to actually give it the approval stamp. It does what it says on the tin and it does it relatively well. I never imagined for the first 45 or so minutes that this would get the approval stamp, but after considering everything that only thing I found myself not likely was that it’s a bit slow at first, but so are films such as The Fly, The Thing and many others.