After a long, unnecessary wait, Eli Roth’s first directorial feature since Hostel Part II is finally here. The Green Inferno has been unleashed upon unsuspecting theater-goers, and whether they like it or not, it’ll still be a treat to see in theaters. I’m not certain how wide of a theatrical release Open Road planned on giving the film, but I honestly can’t see a movie like this, going as wide as it did, if it weren’t for Jason Blum’s carte blance. One scene in particular in this movie is probably the most brutal, gory thing I’ve ever seen in a movie that received a wide theatrical release. It’s in the running, at the very least. I have long awaited this day, thinking at one point that it would never happen, and then after a bit of badgering, I was able to convince one of my local theaters to do a late night Thursday screening of the film. They’re probably mad at me, because other than my cohort and I, there was abut 4 other people sitting in the stadium with us as the lights dimmed, and the fifty production company logos began.
The Green Inferno has somewhat of a double identity. It is a serious, narrative-driven film, which puts a whole host of characters into an unspeakable situation. At the same time, it’s sort of a commentary on the new wave of the Political Correctness movement, and the “Slacktivists” it is comprised of. It doesn’t denigrate real activism, where people are actually interested in fighting for a cause. But if you’re a PC-bruh, more worried that your PC-ness will go viral on the internet than you are about actually helping people, this movie is going to brutalize you. Roth has never been one to celebrate the PC culture our society has embraced. That’s not to say that he’s a dickhead who feels he deserves the right to use harmful slurs to refer to people of a different background, it just means that he’s a filmmaker.
He’s writing characters, and dialog that these characters would actually utter, were this to be a real life situation. Yes, stupid privileged white kids will use the term “gay” when describing something negatively. Yes, some people will refer to a situation as “retarded” if they feel it is stupid, but neither of those things were invented by Roth. Just like when the word “nigger” is uttered by a character in a Marty Scorcese film, and sometimes dozens of times. Is that an indictment on Scorcese’s character, or his real world view? Or is that dialog he’s written for a character to elicit a specific reaction from viewers? Roth’s public persona, and those who have decide to hate him because of it, often clash. He is often judged for things that other filmmakers are given a pass on, and it’s getting a little old. Yes, we get it, you don’t like Eli Roth. But, does that mean that you have to insert yourself into every discussion about the man, or one of his movies, to make sure all of these people who are discussing their enjoyment of his movies can be alerted to that fact?
One of the things Roth has proven to excel at, is on-location horror. I’ve seen a ton of horror movies this year, some of them phenomenal, some of them barely watchable, and in almost all cases, they were either filmed on a set, or at a smaller vanilla location which can be manipulated to seem as if it is any location, so long as the crew pays attention to the details. What Roth does with The Green Inferno, is travel to Chile and Peru, so that he can engross the audience with an actual “green inferno” as the Amazon and other massive jungles are often referred to. It also adds a great amount of production value, to a film which is budgeted at around $6 million dollars. For 6 Mil? It looks absolutely gorgeous. Hell, even taking the budget out of the equation, I’d say it’s one of the best looking movies I’ve seen all year. The scope of this thing is massive, and I have to believe that every penny of that 6 million went up on the screen. It’s hard to take a movie with an extremely low budget, and make it look like a hundred-million-dollar movie, but that’s exactly what Roth has done here. And even if you are not a fan of the man’s work, you should still be able to appreciate that fact.
Most of the characters are either idiots, or despicable, and that’s the entire point. This group of morons think that they can travel into the jungle, and stop heavily-armed militias from eradicating the indigenous population, all by using smartphones and livestreaming technology. Sounds idiotic, right? That’s the point. This movie isn’t an indictment of activism, but faux-activism. People who do things like this for the wrong reasons, such as fame, to have your contribution go viral, or simply to be around a person you think has a nice ass. And another interesting thing is, it sort of plays on the whole “romance” thing that every other movie feels the need to shoehorn into the middle of the carnage, but it does so just about the most Eli Roth way possible. There’s no pandering here, not in this jungle.
Since this is an Eli Roth movie, what you’re all probably wondering is how is the gore? Is it Roth’s goriest movie to-date? Well, yes and no. One scene in particular, which I mentioned above, is one of the gnarliest things I’ve seen on a movie theater screen which wasn’t sponsored by Exhumed Films. The gore is there, it’s gorgeously done with practical effects, and most of it is not partially-shown to maintain an R-rating. I honestly could not believe, as said scene was playing out, that this film passed the ratings board with an R. This isn’t Cannibal Holocaust. There is no animal death, or brutal rape types of scenes. It does go into rapey territory at some point, but with more of a purpose, and one that was forecast at the beginning of the film. One note is, that the length of the movie, sort of makes the gore feel a little more few and far between than it is. If I have one complaint about The Green Inferno, it’s that the running time goes for about 10 minutes longer than it actually should. Most of the drag-time is in the opening scene, with unnecessary characters receiving screen time that they shouldn’t. I’m a firm believer that any character introduction should be followed by a payoff, and some of the characters who are introduced at the beginning of the film serve almost no purpose at all.
Bottom Line, Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno is the type of movie we should dream to have playing in theaters nationwide. Even if you find yourself on the other side of Eli Roth fandom, I think you should still see the movie for what it does well, and to support extreme gore at the cinema. I’m an Eli Roth fan. I love Cabin Fever, I love Hostel, and even more so, I love Hostel Part II. This is Roth’s second-best film in my view. I’ll admit, when the distribution issues started, I had my concerns. A lot of people hated the Roth-produced, Nicolas Lopez-directed Aftershock, and most of that cast and crew returns for The Green Inferno. And though I do love Aftershock, The Green Inferno is unquestionably a better film, in almost every way. When I left the theater, I hadn’t fully digested the experience yet, and I honestly didn’t know how I felt about the film as a whole. It’s one of those movies that as you discuss it with friends after the screening, and do your own private reflection, that you begin to realize you liked it quite a bit more than the first few seconds after the credits roll. I also think that this is a movie that will require repeat viewings in order to fully appreciate what it does. It is a very fun time at the theater, though, and I highly recommend any and all horror fans who have the opportunity to see it in theaters this weekend. Ignore the haters, and go see The Green Inferno. Most of you are going to like it quite a bit.