18 – 100mins – 2013
Lost in the wilderness for a couple of years owing to “financial difficulties” with production company Worldview Entertainment, Eli Roth’s gloriously gratuitous homage to 70s/80s Italian savage slasher flicks (the title is cribbed from the film-within-a-film in Cannibal Holocaust) is finally released into civilised society in the form of a home video release.
Attempting to ground the relentless barbarism in socio-political relevance, the introductory 35minutes is a thoroughly uncaptivating ordeal as a group of New York University student activists induct freshman Justine (Knock Knock‘s Lorenza Izzo) and rally her to join their cause on a non-violent protest in the Peruvian Amazon to protect the indigenous tribe whose homeland is being destroyed by corporate bulldozers.
The lush beauty of the exotic South American rainforest looks jawdroppingly crisp in HD, but the scenery is not enough to distract from the often appalling acting on display. Was this a purposeful nod to the often-derisible performances in other such genre ‘classics’, or was Roth simply aiming for a more naturalistic experience, to the detriment of polished delivery?
However, following the crash landing of the group’s aircraft and their subsequent imprisonment by the very tribe they were there to protect (oh, the cruel irony!), dialogue delivery is of next-to-no import, as ninety percent of the script is comprised of hollers, screams and wimpers.
Viewers with a bloodlust will relish Roth’s gleeful abandon in portraying some sickeningly sadistic torture sequences (eyes, limbs, genitals – nothing is safe from these flesh-craving natives!), and while the murderous methods are creatively varied (impaling! Gouging! Death by fire ant infestation!), you do soon start hitting your tolerance for blood-soaked brutality, and hoping for more substance. Alas, The Green Inferno does not cater to such highbrow tastes.
As the dwindling student’s thoughts turn to escape, Justine’s moral compass takes a shocking dive due south as she callously condemns group leader Alejandro (Ariel Levy) to certain death. Sure, he was a crude and contemptible arsehole, but as the heroine of the piece, I expected more compassion for human life from her; while the mid-credit sting this twist leads to is laughable in its contrived absurdity.