This film is an armory of Chehkov’s gun devices. Everything that is mentioned or even briefly alluded to is likely to manifest itself in some way or form. Usually as a tool for murder or mutilation. Like the story, the film thinks it is being clever with its mentions and foreshadowing. About one in five is truly well placed in the story so that when it ends up coming full circle, you’re genuinely surprised. Coincidentally, one in five is also the survival rate of the college students in the film.
Eli Roth delivers an exploitative film throwback, but upgrades the tone to reflect the irreverence of the most recent generation of horror film consumers who would laugh at the use of practical effects because they see them as fake. Personally, I can appreciate a well-executed, non computer-generated special effect. It was refreshing to see how they used camera angles and staging to give the disemboweling a “realer”, nostalgic feel. Roth’s wife and lead actress Lorenza Izzo was great in her role, delivering more screams than even the film itself inspires. She’s well on her way to becoming a well-known scream queen, and if she decides to stay in the horror genre she’ll get there in no time.
One thing that greatly benefits this film is Roth’s infallible sense of humor. Like us, he understands the inherent humor in the events going on around him and uses the disconnect between our modern civilization and this tribal one to his advantage. He shatters the missionary mentality that many of these misguided advocacy groups have by making examples of these activists. Their savior complexes lead them to assume that people not from first world countries are incapable of defending themselves, but they find out that they are dead wrong. This works in the film’s favor because while they are being brutalized, you feel like it wasn’t completely unwarranted.
As a horror film, The Green Inferno is a complete failure. It opts for scares though gruesome scenes of carnage and other gag-worthy moments like in Roth’s previous films, most notably Hostel. Hostel is even eerily similar in that a group of young visitors go to a foreign land and are tortured by the locals. The only difference between the two films is that Hostel took the time to build up to its gore, letting the anticipation mount and turn into terror. The Green Inferno differs because it doesn’t temper its carnage with anything but a sense of helplessness. There is no escalation of any kind, and you’re just bombarded with the bloodshed that might nauseate you, but it won’t scare you.
In many respects, The Green Inferno is more of a comedy that pays homage to the exploitative films of old (like Cannibal Holocaust). Horror purists will hate it for its lack of terror while the casual viewer will be wondering what the hell they got themselves into. There will be a midland group of people who will enjoy the film for the simple pleasure it is, but they definitely will be in the minority. This film might prove to be just as torturous for some people to watch as it was for the characters in it, and I’m not just saying that because of the visual elements.
RATING: ★★★★★ (5/10 stars)