Movie Review: The Green Inferno

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Well, this was kind of a jarring movie to see at 10 in the morning…

The Green Inferno is the latest movie from renowned torture porn aficionado Eli Roth, and his first feature-length directorial effort since 2007 (though, he’s produced over 15 projects in between).  To my knowledge, Roth’s two best contributions to society are his DVD commentary track for Cabin Fever, and his role as the Bear Jew in Inglourious Basterds.  But at least “The Green Inferno” is kind of a cool title for a movie, so he’s got that going for him.

The movie itself is about a group of snooty college students going to the rainforest to film themselves protesting against a construction crew, for knocking down trees and destroying an indigenous tribe.  Well, their plane ride crashes in the wilderness, and the very tribe they were trying to save turn out to be cannibalistic jerks who proceed to murder and eat them.  It’s basically like a horror film treatment of that really old episode of South Park about the rainforest.

As expected in a crappy Eli Roth movie (which as I look through his filmography, this is the first I’ve ever seen in theaters), there is a lot of extended gratuitous violence.  To my surprise, some people just died quick, seemingly painless deaths (since there are about 20 characters who die in the movie), but the rest of them are terribly mutilated and tortured, and I made this face a lot, in particular to the scene when some poor guy gets chopped apart alive:

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The main problem with this movie, and probably all Eli Roth movies (aside from the fact the dude is clearly into some weird stuff), is that it is a freaking tonal nightmare.  It has no idea whether it wants to be a gut-wrenching, visceral nightmare film; or a campy, kinda funny B-movie.  Roth should probably commit to one or the other, because when you’re watching The Green Inferno, you get bounced back and forth between seeing something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, to an over-the-top cartoonish moment that (IN THEORY) should make you smile, maybe?  How are you supposed to stay scared when something dumb happens?  How are you supposed to keep it fun when you’re watching a guy get his eyes gouged out?

It’s just bad ideas compounded on bad ideas.  When I’m watching a movie with my friends, we’ll say really stupid hypothetical “what if?” kinda jokes like “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Indiana Jones crapped his pants in the middle of this fight?”  Really bad jokes.  Not our A-game material, but they are mildly fun in passing.  Eli Roth, though, he puts these dumb ideas into his movie.  He’s like a stoner writing a screenplay at 3 AM, and then putting it right into production without double checking all the dumb things he’s written.  “Wouldn’t it be funny if right after they watch their friend get murdered, this girl gets diarrhea and has a twenty-second long poop scene, complete with exaggerated fart noises, while the whole village laughs at her.  Then at the end she sighs and says ‘Sorry guys!'”  THAT’S IN THE FINAL CUT OF THE MOVIE.  Or (and this is a SPOILER ALERT, if you care [you probably shouldn’t]) he wrote something like “What if the stoner character gets the cannibals really high by putting weed in a dead body they’re about to eat, and then we show all the villagers all stoned set to a crunchy song, and then they like get the munchies, and eat the stoner guy alive.  Ya know, because of the munchies.  We can even have the stoner guy say ‘Oh no, they’ve got the munchies!’ before he gets eaten.”  THAT’S ALSO IN THE FINAL CUT OF THE MOVIE.  I mean, c’mon man.  Did you run these ideas by anyone before you decided to throw them in your manic torture movie?  I know you’re not striving for an award-winning, prestigious film here; but I’m pretty low-brow myself and even I thought these ideas were too stupid to make the final cut.  Either make an obviously dumb movie, or make a terrifying skin crawler.  The hybrid of the two doesn’t work so well, at least in this case.

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I was wondering if there’s much I could praise about the movie?  Hmmm…  Well, I really liked the contrast of the villagers bright red makeup tones with the lush, bright green colors of the jungle.  I mean, the cinematography wasn’t great from a shot blocking perspective, but I did like the colors.  Let’s see…  I guess I liked the satirical take on overachieving liberal arts majors, who are slightly too over-dramatic about how committed they are to changing the world.  I guess the absolute worst of the death scenes got a gross out reaction from me, which is what was intended, soooooo… good for it, I guess.  Aside from that, it’s uh, a movie with characters and a soundtrack.  For sure.

And for all the good will I can possibly muster for it, I’m reminded of how bad an actress Sky Ferreira was in this, in a role that barely even needed to be in the movie, and I lose most of my enthusiasm again.  Upon looking up her Wikipedia page, she is an indie musician to which I have never heard a single song from.  Cool.

So yeah, this wasn’t really a good movie at all.  And you know what, I’m going to be shocked, even more shocked than any of the shock factor that this movie could shock me; if I ever run into a person in real life who has also seen this movie and wants to talk about it.  So I can probably just forget The Green Inferno and move on with my life.

4 out of 10

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