31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2018, Night #17 – The Green Inferno (2015)

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Director: Eli Roth

Writer(s): Guillermo Amoedo & Eli Roth

Studio/Distributor: BH Tilt/Universal Pictures

Budget: $5m

Box Office: $12.9m

Release Date: 25 September, 2015

IMDb Rating: 5.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 35%

UK Blu Ray release? Yes

Cast

Lorenza Izzo – Justine

Ariel Levy – Alejandro

Daryl Sabara – Lars

Kirby Bliss Blanton – Amy

Magda Apanowicz – Samantha

Sky Ferreira – Kaycee

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

A group of student activists travel to the Amazon to save the rain forest and soon discover that they are not alone, and that no good deed goes unpunished.

Inertia’s Insight

It’s safe to say that Eli Roth is a trusted pair of hands for pretty much any horror sub-genre. The VHS junkie that survived on a diet of outlawed horror flicks from the 80’s has brought us flesh-eating viruses, murderous millionaire’s and a vigilante Bruce Willis, so his horror CV is gleaming with scarlet. Here, Roth throws it back to the giallo days of cannibalism and lost tribes as protesting students find themselves quite literally up shit creek without a paddle.

The opening highlights a serious issue in the Amazon, as the isolated tribe come face-to-face with the wrecking bulldozers that are destroying their way through the forest. It sets the scene for the film and the precedent for the group of protestors who make their way to the Amazon to protest the destruction of the forest and the effects this has on the indigenous tribes.

At the centre of the film is Justine, a college student with an interest in social activism that appears to be based on a romantic interest in passionate socialist Alejandro. Convinced to join the activists on a trip to the rainforest to protest its destruction, Justine quickly finds herself used by the group for the fact that her father is an attorney for the United Nations – she is brought close to death as her chain and padlock are sabotaged by the group so that she is targeted by the cartel protecting the bulldozers, appearing all over the news and thus increasing their exposure to this issue.

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It’s a slow burner for the first act, as Roth takes time to introduce us to the setting, the characters and their conflict. We feel for Justine, and how isolated she is so far from home. But when the horror comes, it arrives in true Roth style.

The plane crash is horrifically detailed, and so voyeuristically brutal – it’s a queasy, visceral scene that continues to shock long after the plane has hit the dirt. Roth’s camera assesses the damage in verité style, lingering just long enough for our popcorn to start stirring. Their capture by the tribe is swift, throwing us straight into the horror that ensues. It’s quickly evident why they’ve been captured, as the clothes they wore to disguise themselves at the protest are the very ones that have made them a target; the people they went to save have become their downfall.

The scene where she wakes on the boat and the chief turns around for me is one of those frames that should go down in horror history. It is so powerful and so chilling – all elements combine, from make-up to music to framing – to make that one of the standout moments of the film. That and the appearance of the female leader of the tribe are impactful and frankly frightening.

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What I love about The Green Inferno is that from the moment they arrive at the tribe’s village, it does not hold back. Leaving us thinking that the plane crash was the most impactful scene, we’re then thrown in to a final forty minutes that features dismemberment, eyeball eating, chronic diarrhoea and stress-relieving masturbation.

The film balances delicately between humour and horror, as our gang of protestors try to survive this hideously horrific experience. On the one hand we see Amy brutally kill herself with a shattered piece of clay bowl, and then we’re given some light humour that is tinged with sadness as the survivor’s stuff Amy’s corpse with their remaining marijuana, knowing the villagers will feast on her; the ensuing scene provides some light relief that enables us to remember that old adage from horror films gone by – it’s only a movie… It is so clearly a throwback to the era of cannibal films that it is to be admired and revered in equal measure. Some of Roth’s shots are typical of those giallo movies, particularly the scene where Alice is first removed from the boat.

The finale is superb and is fitting that Justine survives despite everything she’s had pitted against her. She’s survived monsters from all sides and she uses the very tactic that almost saw her killed to save her life. It’s a superb ending to a film that is quite literally a horror rollercoaster.

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Sure, there are arguments about the depiction of native and indigenous tribes and the kind of perception that it imbues, but aside from the message about the destruction of the Amazon this is a film, and a horror one at that; it doesn’t seek to educate or inform, but rather to exploit and excite by means of something we would ordinarily fear if we did come across them in the middle of the jungle because we are, quite simply, uneducated. Roth has addressed the controversy himself by clearly outlining that the very companies he seeks to condemn in this film are the ones that can do far more damage than that of a throwback exploitation film.

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

★★

Trivia

  • The tribe offered a two year old child to the production designer as a “thank you” for including them in the film
  • Having never seen a film before, the villagers were shown Cannibal Holocaust

Quick Quote

ALEJANDRO: Look, it’s good they ate Josh first. He should last them a week.


Tomorrow: Night #18 – Happy Death Day (2017)

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