Review: “The Green Inferno”

A road to Hell paved with good intentions.



It’s nearly impossible to write a review about The Green Inferno in a vacuum; as one of the most promoted horror films of the year, the hype was impossible to avoid, worming its way into my subconscious. Then there’s the fact that, as a hardcore genre fanatic, I’ve literally been looking forward to this film for years—since 2013! Then there was that “boycott this dehumanizing film” fiasco that seemed to demand inclusion into any and all discussions regarding The Green Inferno. Whether I realize it or not, each of these issues affected my viewing experience to a certain degree.

All that said, I can confidently declare that The Green Inferno is an excellent return to form for director Eli Roth, who hasn’t helmed a film since 2008’s Hostel: Part 2. While many will see the film as an indictment of “slactavism” or “#hashtavism” (that is, those who rally behind important causes exclusively from the 1st World comfort of their desktops) there’s something very universal at the core of The Green Inferno: It’s a road to Hell paved with the very best of intentions. This isn’t just a warning to easily manipulated college freshmen, it’s the manifestation of deep-seeded human fears of ineffectuality. There’s a persistent nihilism to the film that’s enough to make anyone take pause.

If there is a target of condemnation, it’s those people who don’t really care, but want to “look like they care”: The girl who joins the cause for a cute guy or the dude who just enjoys being the center of attention. As for the issues of Political Correctness and Indigenous People’s Rights, the thing that’s really going to piss off folks like Amazon Watch is that The Green Inferno is actually an intelligent exploration of these issues—and a damn good movie. Most of the activist characters are portrayed in a very complimentary light. And the tribe, while startling, was presented as a complex matriarchal society; flawed to be sure, but very human. Anyone who has a genuine interest in Rainforest conservation should watch this movie and discus its assertions. Avoiding it out of some misguided attempt at compassion is what I find truly offensive.  Even if The Green Inferno is inaccurate as hell, you’d have to be very closed-minded not to see that this film has more potential for good than evil. But enough of that!

Did anyone else think this lady was a dude?

Did anyone else think this lady was a dude?

As for the promise of shocking visual FX, The Green Inferno’s got them in spades; while the gore is top notch and extreme to be certain, there really isn’t anything we haven’t seen before (in previous Roth films or hardcore zombie flicks, for example). The single scariest moment is all about suspense and implication as opposed to graphic blood or violence—and if you’re not familiar with FGM, you will be! I found the FX were most impactful during the plane crash scene which, to me, was absolutely stomach churning; it ranks with the best examples of cinematic crashes (like in The Grey, Fight Club, or Alive). As for the cannibalism, once I got past the butchery of it all, I was actually fascinated on an anthropological level; even at their most “primitive” these fictitious villagers are deeply nuanced. Remember though, this is a gorehound’s assessment; anyone squeamish about onscreen portrayals of gore and violence should avoid The Green Inferno like plague!

An aspect of The Green Inferno that’s been getting lost in the conversation is the magnificent natural beauty of South America. The film is bookmarked by soaring helicopter shots of the Rainforest’s majestic canopy, resplendent in hundreds of shades of green. The scenes on the river (before the cannibalization, of course) could be used in a tourism add. This setting puts a unique spin on torture porn. When we end up in the dungeons of the Elite Hunting Company in Hostel, the dank bleakness of the setting parallels the victim’s hopelessness. In The Green Inferno, on the other hand, the same level of extreme violence plays out against a backdrop of sheer exquisiteness. The result feels almost like a celebration of violence in all its vibrancy, where crimson blood splashes against glistening effervescence—like a modern art masterpiece.

Ultimately, I’m happy to say that The Green Inferno does indeed live up to the hype, making for an extremely satisfying horror movie viewing experience—even after waiting for two years! Like other books and films that venture into the Heart of Darkness (Apocalypse Now, Mosquito Coast, etc.) The Green Inferno challenges our preconceived notions regarding savagery, skewering those who might believe that modern society is somehow more evolved (or, at least, less violent) than primitive cultures. While it’s longer than your average horror flick, it’s very well-paced and never boring. Hidden in the closing credits: Hints at a possible sequel—which would suit me just fine! I’d love another visit to the “Inferno”!



Have you seen The Green Inferno or do you plan to? Sound off in the Comments section!

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One Comment

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  • Mr Bob
    25 September 2015 at 7:21 am - Reply

    Good review. I have also been waiting ages to see this movie. Glad that it has lived up to some of the hype. I read this book about cannibalism and it was pretty disgusting/gory. worth checking out if your into that kinda thing. It is called Devour by Dan Moxham. Anyway looking forward to seeing the film when it is released in the UK.