Saturday 5 July 2014

The Green Inferno - Review


Written by Eli Roth, Guillermo Amoedo and Nicolás López
Directed by Eli Roth 

Antonieta Pari needs to eat more carrots - a scene from Eli Roth's The Green Inferno 

The Green Inferno is Roth’s first helmed movie in seven years. The emergent king of the horror genre has shifted his lens from the torturous ABC1s of Hostels 1 and 2, who set upon convincing naive young American backpackers that all the Grimm fairy tales they've heard about Europe are true, aiming his lens instead upon that other popular held nightmare, that the jungle is full of voracious man-eaters, to whom white (and as we learn, ideally virginal) flesh is a delicacy.

Introducing The Green Inferno at the Edinburgh Film Festival, Roth spoke of how he wanted to reach just that bit further into the Amazonian rain forest than Herzog managed when the German made Aguirre, Wrath Of God. Roth spoke about his production team’s discovery of the Callanayacu tribe who enjoy a lifestyle that hasn't changed for hundreds of years and who were to form the bulk of his cannibal cast. Off camera these people didn't know electricity, had never seen a movie or television and were delighted to be splashed in red paint as required by Roth's make-up crew. The power-free zone meant that refrigerated (or even un-chilled) soda that the unit brought in with them was another treat, with the director revealing that the biggest problem facing the production during the shoot wasn't mosquitoes or other such natural blights, rather that the tribesfolk would frequently wipe them out of Gatorade. Roth is nothing if not a learned movie craftsman and in a neat mark of respect, The Green Inferno's closing credits acknowledge the predominantly Italian film-makers of the 1970's and 80's cannibal genre, led by Ruggero Deodato who inspired the style, and who was to enjoy a briefly carnivorous inclusion in Hostel 2.

Eli Roth on location with Callanayacu tribes-people

The Green Inferno's preamble lacks the crafted credibility that Roth imbued in his Cabin Fever as well as the first two Hostel tales. It's all just a little too pat how our heroine (in a gorgeously measured performance from Lorenza Izzo) winds up as a guerrilla eco-warrior, on a mission to save the rainforest from the rapacious bulldozers of an evil mining company and armed with nothing more than a cellphone. Of course, the nobly intended plan goes horrifically wrong and following a plane crash (that combines a rather splendid pilot decapitation alongside some disappointing CGI) those environmentalists that survive the landing soon find themselves trapped and put on the menu, as their hungry captors set about supplementing their traditional jungle fayre with an un-healthy portion of North American Greens. 

And this is of course where Roth is in his element. The roasting of flesh, hacking of limbs and removal of eyeballs, are all served with (cinematic) relish and, as can be the hallmark of some of the great horror movies, liberally seasoned with humour too. The plot bears Roth’s hallmark swipe at America’s grandiose dream of bringing good to the world, though he also, early on, includes an informative message about the evils of FGM within his narrative. 

To say any more would be to spoil, but if this description whets your appetite for an alternative (human) churrascaria, then go see the movie soon and catch it on a big screen. Roth can command a serious budget for his projects and Antonio Quercia’s photography, stunning in its capture of the rain forest locations has helicopter shots of Amazonia that are as gloriously giddy-making as the cannibalism is nauseating.

Roth is clearly loving the life Latino and as with his last co-production Aftershock (reviewed here), set in a post-earthquake Chilean beach resort, he aligns himself with South American filmmakers Guillermo Amoedo and Nicolás López to pen the story. Retaining a loyalty to actors he knows and trusts, Roth includes Richard Burgi, the corporate client who ended up as dog-food in Hostel 2, in a cameo as Izzo’s lawyer-father. 

Whilst the story may be a little over-cooked, Roth spends his budget wisely and the photography and effects are spectacular. One of the best date/popcorn horror-flicks in ages, The Green Inferno will surely prove a devilishly hot ticket this autumn.

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