Eli Roth’s new movie screams “Eat me”
There’s more to horror than dismemberment, cannibalism and gory plane crashes, but the director of the Hostel series remains oblivious to the emotional needs of horror, and the whole concept of acting
Green Inferno Review
The Green Inferno
Starring: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Aaron Burns, Kirby Bliss Stanton, Magda Apanowicz.
Directed by: Eli Roth
Running time:100 minutes
MPAA Rating: Restricted
By Katherine Monk
Eli Roth’s new movie may be the scariest film you will ever see…if you’re a food critic.
The rest of us will be able to sleep tight because The Green Inferno is not the kind of horror experience that will leave you looking over your shoulder, or sweating under the sheets recording your last thoughts on your iPhone.
Roth can only do gore. He can gouge out eyeballs and slice genitals, but he can’t reach into your subconscious and yank out the clogs because his horror only goes skin-deep. You could say the same thing about his casting choices, but that’s just the tip of this drifting failure.
Looking to check off every box in the primal fear handbook, Roth puts a pretty woman in jeopardy by placing her in the jungle. It’s a choice for Justine (Lorenza Izzo), a co-ed looking to make a political statement by saving an ancient rainforest tribe from bulldozers.
She also likes Alejandro (Ariel Levy), a handsome young activist, but he already has a girlfriend, and she’s not willing to share.
The bad acting gets a little less nauseating once the ritualistic killing starts, but before the predictable slaughter of young flesh begins, we have to endure a badly acted girlfriend scene, a badly acted standoff, and a badly acted plane crash scene.
The plane crash carries itself, because it’s well done and pretty quick. Like all of Roth’s set pieces, they play to the sick side of the imagination – like what a plane propeller would do to your head, or what it would look like if you took a butane torch to someone’s eyeball, or what human flesh looks like when it’s cooked.
These are images that have far more power when they are projected in the theatre of our mind than in the multiplex because in the comfort of our seats, we know the threat isn’t real.
The risk of dying from a blow dart launched by a man in a loincloth is relatively low, as is being eaten alive by a group of indigenous people.
The only brand of horror Roth can really sell here is physical. It’s David Cronenberg without the humour, the metaphysics or the brains — unless you count the appetizer course – which leaves The Green Inferno little more than a rubbernecker’s spectacle.
And let’s face it. When you come right down to it, flesh is flesh. There are only so many times you can see a half-eaten human carcass before it all starts to look like soup bones.
You have to give Roth some credit for trying to access each primal fear with his primitive approach, but even with all the instances of body envelope violation, this one doesn’t leave a scratch on the psyche. It just lingers like a bad taste.