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The Green Inferno

THE GREEN INFERNO

Zero stars (out of 4)

Director: Eli Roth

Cast: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Aaron Burns, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Magda Apanowicz, Daryl Sabara, Nícolás Martínez, Ignacia Allamand, Antonieta Pari, Ramón Llao, Sky Ferreira, Matías López, Eusebio Arenas

MPAA Rating: R (for aberrant violence and torture, grisly disturbing images, brief graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use)

Running Time: 1:40

Release Date: 9/25/15


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Review by Mark Dujsik | September 25, 2015

Co-writer/director Eli Roth has something to say with The Green Inferno. The movie involves a group of activists who travel to the Peruvian Amazon to stop the destruction of the jungle there and the killing or displacement of the indigenous tribe within it. The "joke" is that the armed guards protecting the construction workers only threaten to kill one of the activists after the members of the group chain themselves to equipment and set off an explosive device. The tribe, meanwhile, actually kills them in gruesome ways and eats their remains. That's the punch line.

The lesson, boys and girls, is that it's better not to care. It's not only folly but also suicide to believe in anything. One imagines Roth sitting back and laughing at these characters as they're mutilated, dismembered, beheaded, fed to cheaply animated ants, and eaten alive by members of the tribe. Those first three are in reference to one character, by the way.

It's not difficult to picture that sight, because Roth doesn't just make a broad, ironic joke with the movie's premise. The screenplay, co-written by Guillermo Amoedo, makes light of this situation in the midst of its most abhorrent scenes of violence. The guy who is eaten alive, for example, meets that fate because he packed the corpse of one of his fellow activists with a bag of marijuana. "Oh, God," he cries as the tribespeople gather around him and proceed to pull at his limbs, "they have the munchies!" Even if the joke were less obvious, there would still be the sight of teeth yanking on flesh and sinew to keep the whole thing from being funny on any level. Here, Roth and Amoedo provide the lame joke and the horrific violence, meaning the scene isn't funny before it really isn't funny.

Roth once again shows himself to a provocateur of the lowest order. This movie exists for only one reason, and that is to put on display a series of brutal, bloody, and intestine-spilling killings. He's running his own cinematic geek show here, daring us either to look away or to keep watching.

We have to assume he would be fine with either response, because, if we don't turn our heads when the matriarch (Antonieta Pari) of the indigenous tribe gouges out an activist's eyes in close-up, surely we'll look away when she cuts out his tongue (with the camera still in close-up, naturally). If that fails to avert our gaze, then surely the sight of him being quartered alive will do it.

All of this happens in the movie, and it should be noted that it happens to the "nice guy" of the group—the only one apart from the movie's central character, really, who doesn't have any obvious flaws and sincerely wants to help in any way he can. This is his punishment for being kind but naïve, in the same way that Roth taunts Justine (Lorenza Izzo), the main character, with threats of genital mutilation because at one point she says that fighting that practice is the cause she believes in most.

We spend the movie wondering if this is really the figurative hill upon which Roth wants to metaphorically die. Does he find the idea of people wanting to help others while ultimately being useless in the grander scheme of things that distasteful that this is his creative response (I'm using that modifier very loosely here)? It's certainly not hypocrisy he's attacking, because otherwise Alejandro (Ariel Levy), the activist leader who sells his principles for publicity, would receive some kind of punishment instead of what actually happens. Instead, Roth's targets include a vegan who realizes she has been eating her girlfriend. His jokes also include a juvenile scene of explosive diarrhea, so at least his sense of humor matches his worldview here.

At this point, it seems impractical to mention that the movie is visually unappealing in its over-lit, digital uniformity, and it would likely sound like adding insult to injury to note that the performances are embarrassingly amateurish. Both are the case, though.

The Green Inferno is an ugly, incompetent, cruel, puerile, baseless, irrational, and downright repulsive ode to nihilism. I have zero stars for it, but I do have one finger to offer in response to the one Roth flips us with this movie.

Note: At this point, I would usually joke about the "infinite wisdom" of the MPAA ratings board, which has deemed The Green Inferno worthy of only an R rating, despite the existence of the more appropriate NC-17. That means the people who assign these ratings have now officially staked their reputation—as a body with the job of judging the "appropriateness" of content for children, no less—on the belief that the extended, graphic scene of mutilation, dismemberment, and decapitation in this movie is as inappropriate for kids as the sight of a naked body or one use of the F-word if it refers to sex. It's time either for them to change or for us to stop lending any credence to their warped sense of moral authority.

Copyright © 2015 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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