Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Green Inferno (2016) - review

As a hint of just how disingenuous Eli Roth's The Green Inferno is, the opening credit scene declares that the films story was created by Roth. This, over an aerial shot of the Amazon rainforest. OK, so this may not seem like much, but it seems that Roth is guessing that the primary audience for this film is unfamiliar with its influences, and even extols the history of cannibal video nasties in the credits like he's their caretaker. To everyone else, The Green Inferno is a blatant rip-off of Cannibal Holocaust. That opening credit scene? Straight out of Cannibal Holocaust. The idealistic teens causing more harm than good in the forest? Cannibal Holocaust. The films title, even? The name of the film-within-a-film from Cannibal Holocaust. It's fine to be inspired by other films, but when you are obvious with it, it really helps if you can at least live up to your influences.

The story focuses around Justine (Lorenza Izzo), a first year college student, who becomes inspired to join an eco-resistance group by its charismatic leader Alejandro (Ariel Levy). They, along with a bunch of other kids, travel to Peru, where they protest logging with their mobile phones and hashtags. Seemingly successful in their endeavour, they travel back to the states, only for their private jet to crash land in the rainforest, and very quickly they become the prisoners of a cannibalistic tribe.

We reviewed Cannibal Holocaust back in February, and in my opinion, it is a film I wish more people could see, but it is so brutal, I understand why they don't. The violence, especially against animals, is pretty graphic and shocking. The story is intelligent and meta, and the filmmakers who become victims to the cannibals, they are truly some of the most horrendous people ever committed to film. The Green Inferno is a pale in comparison. What worked for Cannibal Holocaust was its "found footage", which added a realistic edge to the film, and held the audience hostage to what you was witnessing. Truly, Roth missed a trick when the much discussed use of streaming video on their phones wasn't actually used as a stylistic choice. Even the gore is quite tame, and doesn't go nowhere near the sadistic route of Cannibal Ferox.

The film does attempt to have a serious, if cynical, conversation about "slacktivism", and there are some moments of astute satire when it comes to this, like when one of the group exclaims that "we're trending on Twitter!", and they all have a celebratory beer as they fly back from their protest. As soon as they are captured by the tribe, all this goes out the window. Instead, we are treated to some truly dire attempts at what I can only assume was trying to be dark humour: a girl shits herself, complete with fart sounds; Alejandro starts jerking off as a form of stress relief, directly after a girl slits her own throat; they even try to escape by getting the whole tribe high when they stuff a pouch full of hash into the suicide-girl's stomach. This is all more cringe-worthy than anything else.

The Green Inferno is the type of film thirteen year old's would dare each other to watch. It may seem crazy, but that's only if you don't know any better. It may seem funny, but that's only if you ignore how vacuous it is. It may even seem smart, but that's only if you pretend that it actually has something to say. The characters are dull and cliched, and you care about none of them. The ending is infuriating, especially as it becomes obvious that a sequel is in the works. Clearly a dream project for Roth, it seems any original ideas were blinded by his love of the genre, all of which resulted in a sub-par homage.



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