(Reviewer's Note: The film was screened at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles)
Just over 10 years ago, 31-year-old filmmaker Eli Roth burst onto the scene with his feature debut Cabin Fever, which he followed up with Hostel and Hostel Part II a few short years later. Since then, he has been keeping busy acting in his friends' movies (Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof and Inglourious Basterds, Alexandre Aja's Piranha 3D) and producing (The Last Exorcism, Aftershock, The Man With the Iron Fists). The filmmaker returns to his multi-hyphenate roots with The Green Inferno, which is sadly lacking and almost completely devoid of any merit whatsoever.
For the record, I have never really been an Eli Roth fan, as far as his directorial work is concerned. To say I wasn't a huge fan of Cabin Fever is an immense understatement, and, while I did enjoy Hostel much, MUCH more, the sequel wasn't really my cup of bloody tea either. That being said, I was actually excited for The Green Inferno, because it looked like a good premise with a solid cast. However, I was also excited for Aftershock, which might be/probably is the worst movie I've seen all year, which Eli Roth happened to co-write with his The Green Inferno co-writer Guillermo Amoeda. Naturally, you can see a pattern emerging...
The story should be simple enough. A group of super-activist college kids travel to the Amazon jungle to stop a corporation from tearing down a jungle that would essentially eliminate an ancient, cannibalistic tribe. They succeed (hooray!), but, on the way home, their plane goes down (booray!), landing them in the midst of the flesh-eating tribe they came to protect. Shit happens, blood is spilled, yada yada yada.
I hate to be blunt (no, I don't, actually), but this is just plain boring, although I did get quite a workout of sorts from all the eye-rolling and exasperated neck craning, to see if anyone else in the theater thought this was as inane as I did. Based on reactions from last night's crowd, I'm clearly in the minority in regards to my stance on The Green Inferno, so if you're a fan of Roth's previous offerings, this might be right up your alley. Given his rather large fanbase, I keep thinking there's some aspect of his work I'm not quite seeing or understanding, but, as it stands now, The Green Inferno is just not my cup o proverbial tea.
The crux of the matter is this: it's just not scary. At all. Yes, there are a few effective jump-scares here and there, but they don't feel earned because the story is just so bland. Also, the notion of giving these savage cannibals bowl cuts that are worse than Lloyd Christmas' look, just simply boggles the mind. The characters are thoroughly uninteresting, and it seems like Roth and Amoeda took archetypes from The Real World, threw them on a plane, and made them activists. The bitchy in-fighting gets to the point where I could care less whether or not they were torn limb from limb.
Eli reunites with several cast members from the dreadful Aftershock, including Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Nicolas Martinez and Matias Lopez, along with pop star Sky Ferreira, VFX artist-turned actor Aaron Burns, former Spy Kid Daryl Sabara and Richard Burgi. While there is plenty of talent among the cast, it's incredibly hard to find here, given the over-written dialogue and the exceedingly dumb situations these characters keep finding themselves in.
While it may not be scary, it certainly is gory, and there is a certain way that Roth handles these bloody moments that I've always enjoyed about his work. His directing style is much more assured here than in previous films, but even his flare for genre elements and a few jumpy moments can hardly save this trite and overly dull bore-fest.