THE GREEN INFERNO *** USA 2015 Dir: Eli Roth. 100 mins
Passionate New York City freshman Lorena Izzo, outraged by a lecture on female genital mutilation, falls in with a bunch of Amazon-bound student activists, and the group sets out to live-stream their protest of the imminent destruction of a Peruvian rainforest. Instead, they are captured by one of the tribes facing destruction. Roth’s first film since the underrated HOSTEL PART II, this is a formally-conventional 21st century take on territory infamously explored by Ruggero Deodato’s peerless CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (also the inspiration for its title).
The first hour is effectively unsettling, with a harrowing plane crash sequence and a genuinely wrenching set piece conveying the shocking demise of the most jovial character and capturing a sense of overwhelming hopelessness : “They think we’re the enemy…there’s nothing we can do…” Sadly, it all falls apart in the second half, with the intensity undercut by Roth’s peculiar, wildly misplaced injections of fratboy humour, including stupidity-leaks involving comedy diarrhea, a dick-threatening tarantula and a stress-relieving wank. These attempts at comic relief are so misplaced and so dumb that the film’s early effectiveness and slick production values are pretty much neutered. And, ultimately, the ending – a long way away from the nihilism of Deodato’s masterpiece – is the kind of tidy Hollywood-style wrap-up that would insult any horror movie, let alone one that attempts to replicate one of cinema’s most terrifying visual assaults.
Review by Steven West