September 28, 2015

Movie Review: The Green Inferno

I remember the first time I watched Cannibal Holocaust. I hated it. Completely hated every moment of it and don't get me started on the animal violence in it. There was something about it that just rubbed me the wrong way. That reaction was way back in 2006, not that long ago, right? In the years since I have made my peace with the film, even coming to be a fan of it. I have seen it projected in a theater a couple of times and attended a panel with star Robert Kerman. It is a movie that does not lose its power. It remains a very effective film and a very unsettling experience. It is the granddaddy of cannibal horror, and now we have a new film looking to recapture the feel of that grindhouse classic, Eli Roth's The Green Inferno.

I may not be an expert on them, but I have come to really enjoy cannibal films. Sure, there are a lot of similarities between them, but they work for me, tend to be gruesome, and can be terribly entertaining. The genre goes well beyond the infamous Cannibal Holocaust. The sub genre includes movies like Cannibal Ferox, Last Cannibal World (aka Jungle Holocaust), Eaten Alive (although it seems to be pieced together from other cannibal films), Cannibal Apocalypse (starring John Saxon), Zombie Holocaust (also known as Dr. Butcher, MD), and the one that started it all Man from Deep River (which is a take on A Man Called Horse). If you have any interest in cannibal films, and The Green Inferno merely starts the itch, these are some titles you can explore. Of course, if you are a veteran, you likely know all of these already.

Now, the road to the big screen has been a long one for The Green Inferno. I remember getting all excited for it last year, then it just disappeared from the schedule. I was very glad to see that it had gotten picked up by Blumhouse and that it was finally going to land in theaters. As the date approached, I could not help but get a little anxious, hoping it would live up to what was in my head. Granted, I was not going in expecting Cannibal Holocaust, but was looking forward to a modern spin on the familiar. On that note it did not disappoint.

The Green Inferno does not break much in the way of new ground and at times it isn't all that good. However, it is still a movie that distinguishes itself among theatrically released horror and is more than good enough to warrant a trip to the cinema. It is not found footage, does not feature ghosts, and has more gore than you usually get outside of a Saw movie. These are good things. It is not that I don't like the occasional found footage or ghost story, but it is nice to have a little bit of blood on the screen. Also, this is a film that seems to be unapologetic about what it shows. It does not try to please everybody, or give two sides of a story, this is not about moderation, although it may be about some editing.

All right, what is this thing about? Well, the short answer is it looks at campus social activism, then twists it around, throws them in the jungle, and lets them get eaten by the natives. It is simple, straightforward, and occasionally bloody, not to mention a touch silly. There is a balance between the gore and the laughs that helps to relieve some of the tension. This could probably be used as a good introduction to the sub genre, but not an example of the heights to which it climbed.

Eli Roth may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I like the films he makes and the places he draws his inspiration from. Could this have used a rewrite? Perhaps. At the same time, a lot of the films that us horror aficionados love and those he drew inspiration from are not exactly known for their performances or writing. Perhaps he was just taking the inspiration too literally? Not sure, and ultimately do not care much.

The Green Inferno delivers pretty much what I was wanting from it. It has its tale of mans inhumanity to man, the way justice crusaders can be hypocrites in their methods, and how some people will join crusades for different motives. We also get cannibalistic tribes that know how to have a killer barbecue. It is just an all around entertaining movie. It does not break any barriers or add anything new to the game, but it is a great throwback to a bygone era. Thumbs up in my book.


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