The Green Inferno – 2013

Director Eli Roth
Starring Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Daryl Sabara, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Sky Ferreira, Magda Apanowicz, Nicolás Martinez, Aaron Burns, Ignacia Allamand, Ramón Llao, Richard Burgi
Screenplay Eli Roth, Guillermo Amoedo

A group of college kids looking to do good land in a remote area of the Amazon. They think they will be greeted as liberators of a small tribe that is in danger of losing its territory to developers. Instead, they are greeted as breakfast, lunch and dinner for a tribe who turn out to be cannibals.

There is more to it than this. One of the kids (Izzo) is the daughter of a united nations lawyer, which makes her a hot commodity for the organizers. This turns out to be a boon for the effort, even if she loses her innocence in the process. Were that all she would lose, it might be considered a great trip, compared to what happens.

Roth does a great job showing us images of plenty and ignorance in an urban setting. True believers or not, these kids don’t know spit about the world where man meets beast. There are the typical college discussions about what is right and what is wrong. This doesn’t hold water when it’s time to eat.

After building to a false climax in the middle of the film, the characters and viewers are shocked into a new reality. This is more effective when we get to see the characters as fully realized yet hopelessly naïve people. It’s pushed to new heights when you see the same persons ready for a routine meal and then slowly feasted upon while their friends have to smell the process. Then add a bad case of dysentery to the mix.

Roth is one of the few directors that can push the grotesque into something approaching art. He does a fantastic job of showing civilized society where its bounds truly are. Hostel is one of the most effective films I have ever seen. Because of it, I doubt I will ever travel to any Eastern bloc country intentionally. I hadn’t planned on going to the Amazon anyway.

Will this movie make us think less favorably about ethnic groups as savages that lurk in the shadows of the world? Will it make us think that turning everything into a Disneyfied resort is some sort of answer? Are college kids ever going to be smart about anything? It’s good to ask these questions no matter the answer.

It’s absurd at many points, and there are few scenes that don’t feel like an intentional homage to B movie excess. There is nuance, however. There are moments of humanity. This is a worthy effort, even if one never would want to watch it again.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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