It’s like that movie Alive, only without likeable characters.
If Eli Roth has a spirit animal, it’s a monkey that just constantly swings crap on anything and everything around him. The best thing that he’s ever done is a trailer for a fake movie (Thanksgiving), within two other fake movies (Planet Terror and Grindhouse), followed closely by the first Hostel. Hostel isn’t a bad horror movie by and large, and I actually had a glimmer of hope that Roth might possibly be on the upswing; then he released Hostel 2 and he went right back to the dregs from whence he came. So has he stayed there?
The Green Inferno is probably Roth’s most technically sound movie. It is shot well and a few of the performances (most notably Lorenza Izzo and Nicolas Martinez) are really good. The jungle setting is nice and creepy, and the native tribe is convincing enough, even though at times the haircuts resemble Moe from The Three Stooges a bit more than they should. The problem with the movie, to me at least, is that it centers around cannibals.
Now I know that in the 1970s there were several cannibal movies that got a lot of attention. The most notorious of these was Ruggero Deodato’s 1979 film Cannibal Holocaust. Known as much for its low budget and on-screen animal deaths as it is for anything else, Cannibal Holocaust became the “gold” standard by which these films are judged. Now I’ve never watched Cannibal Holocaust due to the unnecessary animal deaths/mutilations, but even without those issues one major problem still remains; cannibals aren’t scary.
Now don’t get me wrong, if I came upon a cannibal tribe I would run, but as horror antagonists they just don’t work for me. Yeah it can lead to gory, gross-out scenes (although for the most part The Green Inferno gore is too much of a throw-back to be taken seriously), but for the most part they are boring and without depth. Why are they eating us? Because they’re hungry. Besides the taboo aspects of cannibalism, how is it any scarier than a tiger attack? The motivation is clear, so there is no mystery to anything.
The Green Inferno is not a terrible movie, but it is really dumb. All the characters — from the students who want to make a “difference” to the cannibals who want to make some dinner — are tired, one-dimensional clichés. I’m not sure if Roth intends this with his movies, but I don’t know that he could write a believable character if he tried. Everyone in his movies exists as a stereotype, and most are of the annoying variety. Never once is the audience meant to feel any real sympathy for these characters, nor are any of them truly relatable, but at least there is a diarrhea scene and a man jerks off after a woman slashes her own throat. That’s what passes for character development in the mind of Eli Roth.
Luckily, The Green Inferno is a very forgettable movie. Unlike Hostel 2 or Cabin Fever, it is not a movie that I was angered by after viewing, but it just goes further in proving the point that Roth will probably never add anything of real lasting value to the horror genre. I hold out hope as always but, much like Rob Zombie, his is a style I just don’t prefer. He’s more Sean Cunningham than Wes Craven, even though his celebrity friends (Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez) would have you believe otherwise.
Until next time…