"The Green Inferno," Eli Roth's first feature directorial effort since 2007's "Hostel Part II
," has navigated rocky terrain on its way to being viewed by a wide audience. Shot in the fall of 2012 and premiering the following year at the Toronto Film Festival, the film saw its planned theatrical release in September 2014 crumble when original distributor Open Road Films abruptly yanked it from their schedule due to production company Worldview Entertainment's financial difficulties. On the shelf for a few months before producer Jason Blum picked it up, the picture was finally positioned as the inaugural release of Blumhouse Productions' multi-platform arm Blumhouse Tilt (nurturing more extreme, less conventionally mainstream titles). Now, three years after going before the cameras, "The Green Inferno" is finally seeing the light of day.
If 2006's gripping, largely misunderstood "Hostel
" served as a lacerating comment on Ugly Americanism and fears of the unknown, balancing unthinkably horrific situations with perverse satire and astutely written characters, "The Green Inferno" is simply appallingly xenophobic. It poses as satire but falls on the side of smarmy, distasteful caricature. The grossly entitled, strictly one-note characters are insufferable to a fault. The exotic location lensing in Peru and Chile by cinematographer Antonio Quercio elevates the film's production values, but regrettably serves a script from Roth and Guillermo Amoedo doused in ignorance and flippancy. Even the acting is grating and amateurish, a far cry from the shattering performances from Derek Richardson in "Hostel
" and Heather Matarazzo in "Hostel Part II
Justine (Lorenza Izzo) is trying to figure out what she wants to stand for. Spurred by her interest in a third-world college course she's takingbut more likely due to the crush she has on leader Alejandro (Ariel Levy)she decides to join student activist group A.C.T. On a mission to stop private developers from bulldozing the forests of the Amazon's indigenous tribespeople, Justine finds herself diving headfirst into a team trip to Peru. "Are you sure you're here for the right reasons?" a fellow member asks Justine. "Be careful, the jungle's a dangerous place." Both of them are soon going to find out how true her words are.
Inspired by Ruggero Deodato's 1980 stomach-churner "Cannibal Holocaust," "The Green Inferno" is a tonal nightmare. It tries to be absurdist and funny, but comes off as snidely juvenile instead. There is nothing to laugh about when characterseven despicable ones who cannot exit frame right soon enoughare gruesomely ripped apart in a flurry of horrified screams, spurting geysers of blood, and severed limbs. The appointed aboriginal villains of the piece are portrayed en masse as moaning lunatics without consciences, their one and only purpose to maim, torture and cheerfully cook the foreign interlopers. When Justine and Daniel (Nicolás Martínez) get a chance to escape, they head a quarter-mile down the river, Justine nearly drowns, and then foolishly make a beeline straight toward the first sign of smoke rising from the trees. So, yeah, they're not exactly the brightest bulbs in the tanning bed. Eli Roth has a quirky creative voice and undoubted skill as a filmmaker. Oftentimes, he gets a bad rap. With "The Green Inferno," Roth has missed the mark by a long shot, crafting an insulting, eyeball-munching, misanthropic piece of work. The only thing scary about it is its punishing cynicism.