AFI Fest 2013: THE GREEN INFERNO Review

3.5

Film Pulse Score

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DIRECTED by:                                                                       Film Pulse Score: 3.5/10

With Cabin Fever and Hostel, writer-director Eli Roth made an auspicious debut and left an indelible mark on the horror genre.   His films had an off-beat sense of humor, they embraced bad taste and were quite fun.  With Hostel Part II he pushed the envelope further and delivered a gruesome but still enjoyable sequel.   Roth returns to the big screen with his homage to the cannibal horror films of the 70s and 80s.  The Green Inferno delivers what it promises but fails to capture the sense of fun Roth’s previous films had, nor live up to the films he is honoring.  

A group of college activists head to Peru to stage an environmental protest that they hope will save an indigenous tribe from destruction.   After a series of events that prove to be disastrous for the group they find themselves prisoners of the very tribe they came to protect and soon discover that they are cannibals.   The group must find a way to escape or be served up for lunch.

Considering who is behind this film it is surprisingly lackluster.  You could almost say Roth has gone soft.   Running 103 minutes you have to sit through nearly 50 minutes worth of uninteresting character development before you get what you came to see.  If the characters were engaging the long build up would have been much more palatable.  Instead, it is quite dull.   In fact the entire opening feels like a mere plot device that is set up to establish why one particular character must be on this journey.   Numerous reveals as they relate to this character come off as laughable as opposed to the desired affect.

The main reason horror fans will want to see this is for the cannibalism.  Be warned you are better off watching the films Roth is paying homage to.  The practical make up effects, which are one of the few good things about this film, are well done but surprisingly aren’t as gruesome as one would expect from a film of this nature let alone one directed by Eli Roth.   The practical effects by Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero, two effects powerhouses, are rather tame even when looked upon by The Walking Dead standards.   The effect sequences from films like Cannibal Holocaust  or Make Them Die Slowly were much more visceral and left an impression.  The effects in The Green Inferno fail to deliver anything on that level.

Other than the make up effects the only other thing Roth’s film has going for it is the work of his director of photography Antonio Quercia.   Quercia captures the jungle quite well.  You can’t say the same for the editing as the film really could have been cut down by a good twenty minutes or more.  The acting was serviceable but no one really left much of an impression.  Roth’s attempts to push the envelope in terms of bad taste come up well short.  One scene in particular involves how one character deals with stress it comes of as really dumb as opposed to funny.  Another involves the tribe getting high.

When compared to the films Roth is mimicking The Green Inferno really comes up short of the mark.   In a day and age where it has been shown that horror cinema can really push beyond the boundaries of bad taste it seemed like Roth was scared to go the distance.   You’ll be better off just watching Make Them Die Slowly if you can stomach that kind of horror.