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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

The Green Inferno movie review: kill it with fire

The Green Inferno red light

If there is a target for the pitiless cynicism of this brutal exercise in cannibalistic gore, I can’t figure out what it is. Inhumane in multiple directions.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): not generally a fan of the horror genre

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

If there is a target for the pitiless cynicism of this cruelly brutal exercise in cannibalistic gore, I can’t figure out what it is. Is it Justine (Lorenza Izzo), naive and sanctimonious child of privilege from New York, where she is a student at Columbia University and daddy is a lawyer with the UN, who joins a protest in the remote Amazonian forest and gets much more than she bargained for? Is it uncontacted tribes threatened by bulldozers, deforestation, and capitalistic development, because fuck them anyway for being nasty cannibals who capture and eat the people who are trying to protect their way of life and hence don’t deserve to be saved? (The depiction of the scary foreign brown people here and their exotic savage primitive ways is one of the most offensive things I’ve ever seen onscreen. They are not people. They are boogeymen, zombielike monsters. It’s absolutely appalling. In reality, tribes similar to the one depicted here no danger to anyone else; it’s we who endanger them.) Is it the smug opportunism of professional protesters like Alejandro (Ariel Levy), leading Justine’s group from New York? If writer (with Guillermo Amoedo) and director Eli Roth (Hostel) has a cohesive thought to offer with The Green Inferno — a movie neither environmentally geared, in spite of its setup, nor one that embodies any suggestion of an out-of-control conflagration either literal or metaphoric — he does not share it. (The utterly inexplicable ending suggests that perhaps there was no actual thought process behind this movie at all.) This is supposed to be a horror movie, but there’s nothing scary here, just some carnage and dismemberment and sexualized torture (of women only, of course), and I imagine that even fans of gory schlocky exploitative junk will be frustrated at how long it takes to get to that. This is a movie that is monstrous and inhumane in multiple directions, and thinks this is something to revel in. Shameful.

See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of The Green Inferno for its representation of girls and women.

red light 0 stars

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The Green Inferno (2015)
US/Can release: Sep 25 2015
UK/Ire release: Feb 12 2016

MPAA: rated R for aberrant violence and torture, grisly disturbing images, brief graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use
BBFC: rated 18 (strong gory violence)

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • RogerBW

    It’s odd. Clearly people don’t just want to watch scenes of simulated pain and torture, or that’s what would get made. There’s meant to be some sort of emotional connection, even a tenuous one. But then lots of films don’t seem to do even a quarter-arsed job of producing that…

  • Jurgan

    This reminds me of that South Park episode where the moral was “the rainforest sucks ass, so bulldoze the whole damn thing.”

  • Bea Harper

    I’m sorry you wasted your time on this crap.

  • Raina

    I disagree with a lot of what is said in this review — I feel like you misread the film’s message (yes, hear me out, there is one). The message is this; a lot of activists only do what they’re doing for superficial fame, Roth has stated in several interviews that he condemns this deplorable political fuckery and doesn’t encourage false activism.

    Frankly, I find your comment on the tribe rather shallow, boogeymen, really? This is an actual tribe, filmed in the rain forest, who, unlike you (who has probably taken philosophy and ethics classes or some shit like that) have different, ideologies towards what life is like. For them, consumption of human flesh is normal, and, the group of Justine was dressed up as bulldozers when the plane crashed — and, since as you said, the bulldozers were oppressing them, they didn’t hesitate to kill (you know what happens next).

    On a side note, do you plan on checking out ‘Knock, Knock’? Roth’s other film.

  • Raina

    Except here, the protagonists are trying to stop the rainforest from being bulldozed, risking their lives even.

  • Beowulf


  • Beowulf

    She sees ’em so we don’t have to…

  • Stacy Livitsanis

    The Green Inferno is very much a remake of two Italian cannibal horror films from the late 70’s, Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox (second half of Green Inferno is essentially the same as Ferox). What’s particularly alarming is that the original films were much less offensive ideologically than Eli Roth’s smug tribute. At least with The Green Inferno we’re spared the REAL animal murders that were a baffling feature in those films.

    If anyone wants to be really annoyed, read some of Eli Roth’s astonishingly arrogant comments about his movie, such as:

    “My film, however, is about bandwagon activism, or ‘slacktivism,’ which
    is people jumping in on social media and retweeting causes they actually
    know nothing about (something these activists seem ready to do with my
    film). The whole idea of the kids saving the rainforest only to be eaten
    by the tribe they saved is a metaphor for how people are shamelessly
    consumed by their vanity and need for validation on social media. These
    kids in the movie care, but they care more about getting recognized for

    (from: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/eli-roth-cannibal-rainforest-controversy-2014-8?r=US&IR=T)

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