Film review: “The Green Inferno”

by Chancey Plagman

plagmanch@mnstate.edu

Eli Roth’s “The Green Inferno” is not the best horror film ever released. While this reviewer can enjoy a good, gory movie every once in a while, “The Green Inferno” was slow in the beginning and had a ridiculous ending. Its middle, however, was exciting. A group of college students find themselves face-to-face with a group of cannibals in the Amazon, but what’s really surprising is the film’s social commentary. 

Most horror films today seem to start with the killer killing and end with the killer either dead or continuing to kill. This is not the case in “The Green Inferno.” The film goes deeper, exploring society in a way other horror films don’t begin to touch on.

Firstly, the college students visit the Amazon rainforest to bring attention to the deforestation going on and the ancient tribes being killed off if they’re in the way.  The students live-stream themselves being threatened by armed soldiers and the destruction of the forest around them.  While it would seem the students should be proud of themselves for not being killed or incarcerated, we don’t see that until they get back on the plane and look at their phones to find they are trending on Twitter.

Here, Roth is making an observation that brings him frustration: people who say they support a cause, but really just want attention, to look good supporting something. In interviews, Roth has mentioned the Kony 2012 movement and how those who supported it seemed to be hostile in that support ­— that if someone didn’t re-tweet something five minutes after seeing a post, that person would be accused of being against the movement. Roth shows in “The Green Inferno” that these people are the real villains, not the cannibals who capture the survivors after the college kids’ plane crashes.

Further, Roth made the cannibals sympathetic. Immediately upon entering the cannibals’ village, we see they have swine and cattle to feed on, and they just happen to enjoy human flesh every once in a while.  To them, it’s like cake on your birthday — a very special treat. We also see the tribe’s women preparing the human flesh for consumption, talking to each other in the kitchen, laughing, singing songs, even assumedly discussing how their week went. We also see that every member of the tribe has a job to do: guards, lead hunter, etc. They have their own civilization there in the jungle. The cannibals are not the film’s villains. It’s those nasty college kids who really should have gone a simpler route in saving the tribes.

Roth has given us great films before, and here’s hoping he makes better films in the future, but one element I hope he doesn’t lose is the touch of social commentary making everybody human on one level or another. Just some food for thought, so to speak.

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