Eli Roth’s fourth film, The Green Inferno (following Cabin Fever, Hostel and Hostel: Part 2) is an homage to classic (well, classic to some) Italian cannibal films such as Man from Deep River, Jungle Holocaust, Eaten Alive, Mountain of the Cannibal God, Emmanuelle and the Last Cannibals, Cannibal Ferox and, especially Cannibal Holocaust; yes I’ve seen them all. In the case of the last one, the title for Roth’s film was inspired directly by it, which I will get to momentarily. In addition to being an homage, Roth’s film is also a satire, albeit a fairly mean spirited one, of leftist, liberal and progressive college activists.
For those unaware the cannibal film sub-genre was spawned in Italy in the early 1970s and exhausted itself out in the early 80s. The crowning achievement of the genre is the aforementioned Cannibal Holocaust, whose one distinguishing feature from other cannibal films is that it is a precursor to The Blair Witch Project and other “found footage” horror films. In fact the documentary being watched within Cannibal Holocaust is called The Green Inferno and follows a team of documentary filmmakers into the jungles of the amazon. The team proceed to torture the natives, who, in turn torture them back. All of this is caught on camera and, when shown to the TV crew and, of course the audience, the question is raised: “who are the real cannibals?” Of course, in Roth’s film, the answer is simple; “The cannibals are the cannibals.” This has liberals PISSED.
Regerro Deodato’s film along with the other cannibal films is full of violence of every imaginable sort that could not be shown in your average R rated horror film – from the standard decapitations and amputations to more extreme fare like castrations, rape and real animal killing.
It’s 2015 and Roth’s film has no animal killing, but it has plenty of gore. It also includes what might be the final frontier of horror film depravity; female genital mutilation. To be fair America hater Lars Von Trier included this in his film Antichrist from 2009, but Roth is the first to put in a straight ahead horror film.
The basic plot of the movie is that Justine (played by Roth’s super hot wife and Chilean model Lorenzo Izzo) decides to join a group of activists after witnessing a lecture on female genital mutilation in her world studies class and getting manipulated by the sleazy leftist activist Alejandro (Ariel Levy). Their activist trip involves going into a Peruvian jungle and using cell phones and social media to shame land contractors, who employed the help of a gun toting militia, out of bulldozing land of an indigenous Peruvian tribe. When Justine gets a gun pointed at her head and activist leader Alejandro is ready to sacrifice her for his cause, she starts to get wind of the lengths leftists will go to get their point across.
However, the shaming attempt allegedly works and, after their so called victory – which is revealed to just be a p.r. stunt – the activists crash land into the Peruvian jungle and are tortured and eaten alive by the very people they allegedly came to protect.
Enter liberal outrage.
Roth immediately establishes his disdain for leftist college activist types in the film’s opening scene when the main character is woken up to hunger strikers protesting to increase the wages of janitors. The sentiment is continued further when Kira (singer Sky Ferriera), best friend of Justine exclaims, “activism is so fucking gay”, while also throwing in some remarks about the white Jewish elitist guilt to the horrified stare of a passerby. She turns, pulls out her Star of David pendant and says, “Uh, I can say that!” I laughed wholeheartedly at that. Is Eli Roth really taking a swipe at liberal Jews? I can only hope!
In fact, I’ll go so far as to draw a direct parallel with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; young, naive activists support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, thinking they’re helping the “poor Palestinians” in spite the fact that Israel was always just protecting itself against rockets fired by a group of people who they’ve conceded land to in every war they’ve won. Naive activists fail to realize that the people they allegedly want to protect are governed by the savages known as Hamas, who couldn’t care less about their cause and are known for stringing gay people on ropes and killing women when they think they’ve committed adultery. Let us not forget that they use women and children as shields just to make Israel look bad in case they retaliate against rocket fire.
I can only speculate if Roth had any message in mind beyond making fun of social justice warriors. However, it would be nice if the same guy who played the Bear Jew in Quinten Tarantino’s otherwise preposterous Inglorious Basterds, beating the brains out of Nazi soldier with a baseball bat, might have a cautionary, pro-West message in mind. Maybe he was thinking of naive journalists who go to Muslim countries only to be kidnapped and beheaded. Whatever parallel can be drawn, it’s clear the movie doesn’t seem to have a pro-multicultural message. Hell, the protagonist is saved by the very “imperialist” militia she had gone to protest against.
Anyway, back in the jungle the natives are portrayed as primitive savages and waste no time in cooking up and eating the fattest member of their crew, Jonah (Aaron Burns) (did Eli Roth name this character Jonah because he’s fat?) People who hate the film’s message will try and say that the film lacks suspense, pacing, atmosphere, and likeable characters. They’re just looking for excuses to hate it. The Peruvian jungle locale looks gorgeous and we immediately sympathize with Justine the second she finds out that she was a pawn in the “activist” Alejandro’s twisted plot.
On top of that the movie has lots of excitement and gore; branch going through someone’s face, head getting chopped off by a propeller, live body flaying, someone being eaten alive by ants, freshly skinned heads on poles and a throat being slit. The mood is lightened slightly with some juvenile humor in the form of some explosive diarrhea and a “Scooby Doo” style escape plot involving putting marijuana in the cannibals’ food.
When leftists actually admit that the movie is good, as in suspenseful and well made, they complain about how it’s xenophobic and that attacks on social justice warriors are shallow at best. But that’s the point! Social justice warriors ARE shallow, taking on socio-political causes with almost no knowledge of the history behind any of them.
Some critics feel the film’s conclusion makes no sense; that Justine, the only survivor, goes on to lie about her experience with the cannibals to her father, a member of the U.N. I don’t feel this is the case at all. I feel this is exactly what people on the left do; make excuses, rationalize or flat out lie about how certain cultures just aren’t compatible with Western values. Eli Roth isn’t afraid to point this out.