The Film (3.5/5)
The original cycle of Italian cannibal cinema was not known for it's social subtext. They were a series of films beginning with Umberto Lenzi's Man from Deep River that were out to give a sense of adventure, and then later shock the audience with every increasing scenes of violent gore. The one exception to the rule is also the most notorious Ruggero Deodato's 1980 film Cannibal Holocaust was an indictment of the modern media and how it manipulates the emotions of the viewer. Now, we have Eli Roth taking on the cannibal sub-genre of horror, and using the genre as way to offer his own socail commentary. However, unlike Deodato in Cannibal Holocaust or the subtext laid out in such genre fare by John Carpenter or George Romero it just seems like a case of an overgrown frat boy whining about something that bothers him.
The premise of The Green Inferno is fairly straight forward. A group of social activists at a New York based university lead by Alejandro (Ariel Levy) head into the jungle to protest construction through a village of native people who have never had contact with the modern world. To achieve this they plan on chaining themselves to the construction equipment used to demolish the village and streaming their protest live as the construction workers, and the militia accompanying them attempt to stop them. Showing the world what is happening in this remote location, and the "shocking" treatmenet of these protesters. Accompanying the group is a young freshmen woman Justine (Lorenzo Izzo) who seems to be just following along to get the attention of Alejandro, and to prove that she can be strong in her activism too. The protest goes off without a hitch, and the group feels like they are successful, however, as their plane departs the jungle location it crashes, members of the group die on the spot, and the others including Justine and Alejandro are taken captive by the tribe they were there to protect, who it turns out are cannibals, and think that they are the enemy.
Roth seems to be pushing the agenda that "Social Justice Warriors" as he calls them in interviews are deserving of death and cannibalism. That social activism utilizing modern tools such as social media is a joke, and unlikely to gain any sort of actual result. It's an immature perspective considering that the tools and methods he is mocking have gone to help protesters not just in the U.S., but in other nations around the world where protests and rebellion have been previously been difficult to organize without serious repercussions. They have now been put into the hands of regular people who use them to communicate and organize, and have made a serious difference.
Now with that out of the way I will say that Eli Roth has made what is essentially an effective entry into the cannibal genre. Does it reach the extremes of the genres Italian based hey day of the 70's and 80's? No, but even if Roth had aspired to those extremes, no producer in the modern mainstream would have funded that sort of project, and no distributor would have even given that a limited release in theaters. What we have with the Green Inferno is effectively the most gory and shocking cannibal film likely to hit theaters from an American studio likely ever.
Although I found the subtext of the film annoying, I quickly shoved that aside for what was essentially a largely entertaining film. The film does get off to a slow start while Roth builds up the characters and situations that get our cast into the jungle and into the tribes village, but once that is out the way, the film becomes an effective little gut muncher with a nice sense of adventure running through it, and some decently suspenseful moments.
The cast lead by Lorenzo Izzo and Ariel Levy will probably not win any awards for this one, but for the characters they are playing are quite solid in there roles, and act appropriately considering their situation. The splatter FX from the always reliable KNB FX group were grotesque and effective. Though some of the more obvious CGI elements felt cheap and out of place (one particular animal, and a death by ants). The one area where the film falters is the ridiculous attempts at humor that permeate the piece from scenes where the imprisoned soon to be victims attempt to get the cannibals high on the dead body of one of their friends, and the then stoned cannibals getting the munchies. To another moment where one of the soon to be cannibal chow gets diarrhea, and the reactions to that.
The Green Inferno is a reference to a jungle location in Cannibal Holocaust. Roth from his very first interviews prior to the release of Cabin Fever made it well known his affection for the Eurohorror films of the 70's and 80's, and with this film he has realized that affection on cinema screens. It's not a great film, but it's a solidly entertaining piece, and a decent homage to what came before. If you are a fan of the Green Inferno I would suggest (and I think Eli Roth himself would agree) seeking out those earlier Italian films for your viewing pleasure.
The Green Inferno is presented by Universal in a solid 2:40:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the films OAR. The film looks quite with solid details, color, and a clean image. There are some softer moments throughout the presentation and a bit of digital blurring, but that is less a product of the transfer and more as part of the nature of the production itself.
The sound is presented in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix in English that sounds quite good with the dialogue and score coming through nicely.
The only extras on the Green Inferno Blu-ray release are a commentary track by Eli Roth and the films cast, and a photo gallery. The commentary solid for the most part with Roth being informative, but also acting as a solid moderator for the cast.
The Green Inferno is a solid update to the cannibal genre from director Eli Roth. The film has issues with pacing, humor, and oddly ill-informed social subtext, but still manages to be entertaining as a whole. The transfer looks quite solid, and the film sounds great. Extras are slim, however. I woud recommend this film to fans of the cannibal genre, but then again you've seen much better, to new comers this film might act as a solid gateway to the carnage the genre has to offer though. RECOMMENDED.