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Review: The Green Inferno

Two men, their dark skin dyed red, peer through the long leaves of a large bush. There is not a single sound. Cut to a group of yellow bulldozers chewing through a field, the sounds of torn landscape and workers blaring. In the opening moments of his film The Green Inferno director Eli Roth presents his message immediately, and in the least subtle of manners. Humankind is destroying the South American amazon, and something will be done about it.

Roth then takes viewers to a university campus in New York City. Justine (Lorenza Izzo) watches as a group of students protest the rights of their school’s janitors. A friend leans over and says, “The only thing those people care about is acting like they care.” Feeling as if she needs to make some sort of contribution, Justine attends a meeting with a “save the rainforest” club. Led by Alejandro (Ariel Levy) the group plans to travel to Peru, where they will chain themselves to trees to prevent a construction company from knocking them down. After their charter plane crashes in the rainforest, the surviving students find themselves in the hands of a tribe of hungry cannibals.

Viewers familiar with Roth’s oeuvre will be prepared for the gore that ensues while those who have had the fortune to avoid the director’s work will likely be shocked and disgusted. Similar to his previous approaches to the “torture porn” sub-genre, Roth makes most of his characters extremely unlikeable, thus making it much easier to watch them be dissected and consumed. One cannot help but get the sense that the actors involved may not be in on the joke, delivering their eye-roll ensuing dialogue with full fervor.

Regardless of audience affiliations with the characters, it is never easy to watch someone be brutally dismembered on film. While the genital mutilation scenes are most tough to observe, Roth does insert his fair share of humor, for the twisted that is. One sequence has pothead Lars (Daryl Sabara) shoving his weed stash down a dead friend’s throat, hoping that when the body is cooked the tribe will be slowed by the effects of the smoke. Of course, it is too late when Lars notices that the tribe is becoming increasingly hungry and looks up to declare, “munchies!”

While The Green Inferno mostly serves as frivolous and disgusting entertainment, there is a statement underlying throughout the film. The film forces viewers to reassess their opinions on foreign aid in third-world countries. Yes, people want to help, but Roth asks the audience to question why people want to help, and who does this “help” ultimately assist. Roth’s approach to asking these questions may not be a well-crafted road, but it is a road nonetheless. That being said, even those approaching the film for pure entertainment will be left with something to chew on.

[star v=3]

Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.