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Review: ‘The Green Inferno’ Has a Lot to Offer in the Name of Gore and Social Commentary



Review: 'The Green Inferno' Has a Lot to Offer in the Name of Gore and Social Commentary

Always wanted to watch Cannibal Holocaust but you’ve been put off by the animal death? Check out The Green Inferno! This 2013 film was directed by Eli Roth and is always severely underrated by critics. Just like all of Roth’s films, it walks the line between mainstream media and exploitation. It’s a good soft introduction into the extreme side of horror, but don’t use the term “soft” too lightly. It has a lot to offer in the name of gore and social commentary.

The Green Inferno is about a group of activists heading to the peruvian jungles to stop the deforestation happening there. As they celebrate their victory and head home, their plane crashes into the jungle. Mistaken for being the “bad guys” the local tribe they were fighting for takes the plane crash survivors as prisoners.

We don’t get the unrelenting shot after shot of shock like we do in the original Italian Cannibal movies. This one is much more tame. We only get a couple of deaths and I won’t spoil those. As mentioned before, it’s safe for animal lovers. There is no typical on screen animal deaths like the earlier movies of the genre.

The Green Inferno Movie Still

Roth has a tendency to make films that are an ode to other films. The Green Inferno is a direct love letter to Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox. When he announced that he was making this movie, I did not believe that a movie like this could be made tastefully in these times, but I was proven wrong. Roth does an amazing job capturing the same hopeless feelings of the earlier films. The Green Inferno is also a direct reference to Cannibal Holocaust. It was the working title for the movie but Deodato eventually changed it, but still used The Green Inferno as name of the fictional documentary in the movie.

The film caused some controversy when an activist group called ‘Survival International’ took a stab at the film. It accused Roth of misappropriating indigenous tribes and making them look like “savages”. They believed his film would cause companies to validate taking homes of real villages and tribes because they were “savages”. Roth shot back saying, “The idea that a fictional movie about a fictional tribe could somehow hurt indigenous people when gas companies are tearing these villages apart on a daily basis is simply absurd. These companies don’t need an excuse—they have one—the natural resources in the ground. They can window dress things however they like, but nobody will destroy a village because they didn’t like a character in a movie, they’ll do it because they want to get rich by draining what’s under the village. The fear that somehow a movie would give them ammunition to destroy a tribe all sounds like misdirected anger and frustration that the corporations are the ones controlling the fates of these uncontacted tribes.”

Roth was very careful to make sure he did not make indigenous people look badly. They are not the antagonist of the film and we are made aware of that in dialogue and context. The film was also shot in the Peruvian jungle with a local village. When Roth approached the villagers, he realized that they had never seen a movie before. He brought in a TV and a copy of Cannibal Holocaust. The villagers loved the movie and even mistook it as a comedy. They were happy to take part in the film after the viewing. Roth claims that the villagers even offered the Production Designer a two year old child as a “thank you” gift for letting them be in the film. Of course, the offer was politely turned down. Roth also claims that while filming, Christian missionaries showed up to the village and were greeted by the gorey movie props. Understandably, they were mortified but ultimately relieved when they learned the fake dead bodies weren’t real.

As stated, this is an underrated movie. Yes, it’s very tame for the subject matter and the genre. However, the Italian Cannibal movies of the 70s and 80s were never highly praised by critics to begin with. It was really refreshing to see that movies like this can still be relevant today. It was originally set to release in 2013 but was delayed to 2015 due to the original distributor going bankrupt. I was almost fearful that the long delay would drum up too hype and the movie would fall flat. It was finally released and I had the pleasure of screening it at my movie theater job at the time and I was very pleased with the outcome. It has easily become one of my favorite movies of the decade and an instant spot on my collectors shelf. It’s no ‘Mondo Cane’, but it’s just enough.