This is an easy film to review because, in all likelihood, only one factor is going to determine whether you embrace Eli Roth's long-delayed work THE GREEN INFERNO: whether you are capable of extracting any amount of entertainment value from a graphic movie involving cannibalism. If your answer is yes, you'll likely have a blast, as your stomach turns and the bile builds up in your throat. I know I did.
Roth and his co-writer Guillermo Amoedo borrow heavily from the iconography of director Ruggero Deodato's CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (minus the animal killings, thank goodness) and a bit of the subversiveness from Umberto Lenzi's. The film does not begin well, with a group of mostly student activists all blindly following a leader Alejandro (Ariel Levy), who leads them on a mission to the Amazon to block heavy machinery that is tearing down the rain forest.
One of the students is Justine (Lorenza Izzo, who also stars in Roth's soon-to-be-released KNOCK KNOCK), whose skepticism about any good they might do for the environment is worn down by the persuasive Alejandro. If I had one major criticism of the film, it's the largely terrible acting by some of the actors playing the activists in New York (Izzo and Levy aside). A part of me wants to believe that Roth planned it that way, since the acting gets much better when their lives are in danger later in the movie, but I'm fairly certain that wasn't the case.
After more or less completing their mission, the group is flying back to civilization on a junky charter plane when it falls apart and crashes in the middle of the jungle. The survivors are discovered by the indigenous people, who have a taste for human flesh and naturally pick the pudgy guy first. The scenes of eating aren't nearly as nasty as the moments where the natives cut apart a a body after smoking it for a time. Meat is meat, but when you can recognize body parts, that's when your gag reflex is tested.
As difficult as it might be to believe, there's a great deal of dark-as-night humor to parts of THE GREEN INFERNO, especially in scenes involving a stash of drugs used to help the activists escape (or at least attempt to). But make no mistake, Roth is all about testing limits with this film, and whether you think they're worthy of testing or not doesn't really matter. But he's not just testing boundaries in gore; he's aiming his sights at modern-day, sofa activists who think retweeting counts as some form of meaningful protest. It's clear that Roth hates these buffoons and sees this from of expiration as somehow fitting; he may be right.
But even setting aside the social commentary, THE GREEN INFERNO is a tribute to the cannibal sub-genre of horror films as well as a worthy addition to the canon. It's brutal as hell, but it's also beautifully shot by cinematographer Antonio Quercia (thankfully Roth chooses not to make his movie a found-footage work, as CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST was). For those who have never experienced a film of this ilk, it may serve as a manageable entry point, but I make no promises. You either know your limits or you don't, and THE GREEN INFERNO will likely test them no matter how certain you are that you can handle such intense violence. Bon appétit!