When Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno first became public knowledge there were a lot of people jumping to the usual conclusions.
Mainly because Roth is the celebrated lord of Torture Porn, delivering films that are light on story and heavily laden with extreme, graphic gore. The most offending aspect of this horror sub genre is the way that sex is thrown into the mix making it hard for many to stomach, enjoy or appreciate.
However, Eli was keen to peel off early torture porn labels when The Green Inferno’s teaser trailer was released. But even after this, many were convinced that this latest film would just be more of the same.
Student Justine (Lorenza Izzo) feels that there’s a void in her life so joins a group of college activists driven by the desire to ‘make a difference’ to the lives of tribes people – particularly women – in poorer countries.
When the charismatic group leader suggests an expedition to South America to save a primitive village from demolition, she and the rest of the group accept. Soon enough they’re on their way to a rainforest with the intention of broadcasting the crime to the world and thus stop the demolition crew in its tracks.
The plan works, although Justine is betrayed in the process and to make matters worse, on the way back to the safety of the United States the plane carrying the students crashes in a remote area.
The situation worsens when the survivors are picked up by another local tribe who are immediately hostile. And when the Americans reach the village it soon becomes clear that their fate is a bleak one as the natives set about torturing and eating them. Cue blood, meat and screams.
But what is quite simply a story about the survival of Justine and her friends is made more interesting by two things:
1. Extreme gore
2. Weird ‘Eli Roth-isms’ that present themselves as the film goes on.
The gore is unforgiving. From the plan crash and beyond there are almost too many gross acts to recollect, from eye gouging (doesn’t Roth always have that in his films?!) to bloody suicide and flesh eating ants.
It’s full on. And this element alone would be too much for many. If you’ve not already desensitised yourself to this kind of content before with the likes of Saw or Roth’s Hostel films, then it could be too much to bear.
The effects are also very well done so they’re very realistic and so are quite distressing. Which is what makes point two even more confusing.
The Eli Roth-isms refer to a number of things including the odd and confusing plot, that seems to move in odd directions in an almost amateur fashion.
The wobbly acting by many of the cast, making you wonder whether they’re not very good, or if they’re performing a homage to wobbly acting seen in the 1970’s and 1980’s films that Roth draws some inspiration from.
And weirder still, there are the random splashes of humour that, though funny, seem very out of place and baffling. Quite how someone can flip from a girl cutting her own throat to a man masturbating just meters away from her to ‘de-stress’ in a film like this is almost beyond belief.
If you can get over these issues though, the film is indeed interesting, entertaining and horrifying, which was I think, Roth’s intention.
Izzo as Justine eventually captures the mind of the viewer and soon enough you feel that you do care what happens to her, even if you do have to sit through some rather weird and distressing scenes.
It is no surprise though that it has caused revulsion and that the torture porn flag burners have been out in full force because they do kind of have a point.
That said though, in a world where the mainstream media is providing an increasingly graphic view of world events, it makes sense that our horror is doing the same.