I had the pleasure of meeting Eli Roth briefly in 2010 at the Los Angeles Film Festival screening of The Last Exorcism, a film which he produced, and he came off as a really swell guy. Because of that, and my love for his cameo as the Wet T-Shirt Host in Alexandre Aja’s Piranha 3D (2010), I swore to myself that I’d see his next flick in theaters.
So this weekend, after an hour drive, I hit up an afternoon showing of The Green Inferno in Orange, CA. Was it worth it?
Yes. Sweet, terrible jungle god, yes.
I love jungle adventures and cannibal flicks, as a general rule, and I haven’t gotten many contemporary fixes except for Fabrice Du Welz’s Vinyan (2008, gotta love Rufus Sewell) and 2007’s Welcome to the Jungle, which was written and directed by Jonathan Hensleigh (who helmed the unfairly maligned Punisher outing in 2004). So I was excited to see my first theater-Roth
and get my cannibal fix, all in one go. I was not disappointed.
Roth thinks to string the picture through with a better-than-expected activist plot, which runs the first half of the film and a bit at the end, and the rest of the picture is clench-your-jaw, grip-your-armrest, horror. No mere Saw fans have seen the level of atrocity on display here–eye gouging and claw-tooled virginity checks, to name a few–but Roth actually did an amazingly awesome thing; he left some gore to the background, and opted some deaths to be off-screen, allowing them to be used as excellent
reveals to the characters later in-film. By doing so, Roth effectively builds the tension to a max, and makes you actually care for characters who began the tale as generic and irritating cannibal fodder.
The acting in The Green Inferno is top-notch, as well, especially the uninhibited performance by Roth’s wife Lorenza Izzo as the lead character, who succeeds in losing her character’s youthful innocence without coming off as whiny. Both Izzo and Roth should also get credit (her, more so, for the position she had to be in) for their re-envisioning of the rubdown Ursula Andress got in The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978), turning it into a less sexual, yet more vulnerable and terrifying event. The
heroine’s college roommate, played by singer Sky Ferreira (also in the upcoming Nic Cage vehicle The Trust), is the only one who gives a bit of a Kristen Stewart performance, but that may have come from trying to wrench a little too much from a small role. Regardless, while the film’s various factions–the governments, corporations, tribesman, almost everyone–come away smelling not too rosy, the cast and crew come off as the exact opposite, and deserve accolades.
Ultimately, I can’t believe I got to see a new jungle cannibal sub-genre flick in a big beautiful theater, and I’ve checked that box off my bucket list. Eli Roth has again proven he’s well established in the New Godfathers of Gore trifecta, alongside Neil Marshall and Alexandre Aja, and I can’t wait to run into him again and see every flick he puts his thumbprint on.
Gore Rating: 5/5, so gore-hounds rejoice!
Sexy Rating: 1/5. Sure, Lorenza Izzo is a beautiful woman, but if this stuff gets your rocks off, I’m pleased not to meet you.
Thumbs: Two of ’em, way up!
P.S.–While it’s not related except very coincidentally by subject, I was intrigued to find in my pulp novel collection a re-titled copy of Marcos Spinelli’s From Jungle Roots called The Green Flames: A Novel of Incredible Violence. Coincidence? Yes, but interesting, all the same!