The Green Inferno (Eli Roth, 2015)

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domino harvey
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The Green Inferno (Eli Roth, 2015)

#1 Post by domino harvey » Sat Aug 09, 2014 3:37 pm

Eli Roth's the Green Inferno, due to open next month, has been pulled from the release schedule after Worldwide backed away from their commitment to fund the marketing. Wonder if they got wind of all the lukewarm-to-terrible reviews from even people who like these kind of movies and realized they'd never make their money back?

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colinr0380
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Re: The Films of 2014

#2 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Aug 09, 2014 4:15 pm

However The Green Inferno turns out (Is there really going to be a large mainstream audience for a film inspired by the Italian cannibal genre? Although I think I asked the same question back when Apocalypto was getting released), I'm curious about how it is going to work with this material. I was especially interested to note that quite a few members of the cast (at least around five by my quick imdb comparison) also starred in the blunt but amusing disaster movie (with what I can only assume to be a homage to The Last Wave at its climax!) Aftershock, which Roth had an acting role in, co-wrote and produced.

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Re: The Films of 2014

#3 Post by Movie-Brat » Sat Aug 09, 2014 4:52 pm

domino harvey wrote:Eli Roth's the Green Inferno, due to open next month, has been pulled from the release schedule after Worldwide backed away from their commitment to fund the marketing. Wonder if they got wind of all the lukewarm-to-terrible reviews from even people who like these kind of movies and realized they'd never make their money back?
I have no idea. I mean when have terrible reviews stopped them before?


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mfunk9786
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Re: The Green Inferno (Eli Roth, 2015)

#5 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 4:02 pm

At this point we should just be adding an AV Club RSS feed so Domino can take a break from typing

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colinr0380
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Re: The Green Inferno (Eli Roth, 2015)

#6 Post by colinr0380 » Sun May 01, 2016 7:28 pm

Despite its apparently terrible reputation and less than positive reviews, I ended up really enjoying The Green Inferno! As with all of Eli Roth's films though it really needs to be approached more as a pitch black, tongue-in-someone-else's-cheek satirical comedy than a particularly harrowing horror film. That's not to say that there aren't images here that might upset mainstream audiences, but the film takes a more absurdist approach to its gore and when things threaten to get a bit too 'real' it usually backs off into something a bit more palatable.

On those terms though I had a lot of fun. This is a film that seems to share my own sense of ambivalence about Activists with a capital A, who are driven by ambition as much as a sense of any particular interchangeable injustice of the week (I like to imagine that the trip to save the Peruvian village was put into Alejandro's head by a plant from the University in retaliation for having been forced into giving their janitors health benefits!), and whose ideas of 'soft power' involve public shaming of individuals who might not share their goals to the same extent.

Our heroine the naive (and very thematically appropriately De Sadean-named) Justine gets infatuated with the leader of an activist group Alejandro (who is really the Giovanni Lombardi Radice-styled monstrous character of the film), and decides to tag along on the fateful trip to the rainforest. I actually like all of the early sections of the film more than the cannibal village stuff, and one of the things that this film does much better than the films that inspired it is that it sets up some really interesting character relationships in the first half. I especially like the roommate that Justine leaves behind in the US, Kaycee, who provides lots of sensible friend-to-friend advice about staying away from Alejandro and perhaps not going to Peru (and wonderfully has a more down to earth Christiane F. poster on her side of the room, which seems to be duelling with Justine's more headstrong, head in the clouds Betty Blue poster!), but who eventually can only wish her goodbye and good luck.

And also one of the members of the activist group, (the again aptly named) Jonah, is wonderfully played as being the person who is actually infatuated with Justine, handing her the flyer for the group and then letting her wrongly continue to believe that Alejandro invited her to join them so that she will come along on their trip, even though Alejandro shows less than no interest in Justine from the very beginning. Jonah also has that wonderful sense of being a little too committed to the cause - knowing he is doing the right thing compared to the much more pragmatic couple of Alejandro and Kara, using their current cause as a stepping stone to greater name recognition.
SpoilerShow
This does of course mean that Jonah has to be one of the first to get killed by the cannibals, in the most protracted and goriest death scene of the film, as if to overly pay for his naive and sheep-like (see no evil, speak no evil) tendencies, his interest in Justine never getting acknowledged. It does interestingly also mean that Justine has to do a kind of internal move away from her own infatuation with Alejandro into turning her back on him at the end through her own realisations about just how horrible he is though!
I also love the calculated use of Justine as an expendable figure in the actual protest scene too, which is perhaps the cruellest thing that happens to Justine in the entire film! (But it is the early example of Justine being reduced just to a symbolic figure for other characters to use for their own ends) Of Kara and Alejandro not caring if she lives or dies with a gun against her head (or rather caring about Justine's powerful family connections to the UN), because either way it will make for a sensational story, all captured on film. And this is a film that updates the old adage from a pen and a sword to "the streaming video capable smartphone is mightier than the semi-automatic machine gun", made especially apparent (and blackly comic) in the wonderful final stand off scene, watched with intent curiosity by the natives who then melt away into the forest, presumably to look into contacting a PR guru who might be able to promote their cannibal lifestyle!

Once that is done with and we get the best airplane crash sequence since Alive out of the way the film gets to the cannibal village second half which is...fine. It is great to see Greg Nicotero back doing the squashy practical gore effects again, though they don't really have the same sense of impact here compared to his spectacular work on something like Day of the Dead (and there is an overt homage to the "choke on 'em!" scene from Day of the Dead as suddenly all of the pot-addled cannibals turn into flesh-eating zombies for a brief scene, not even providing the courtesy of cooking the person first!) Really I think its the more comical tone here that works against the effects as aside from a nasty first death, a lot of the other cannibal killings take the form of wandering off with nicely chopped off mannequin arms and legs with bits of meat attached to them! Also, and this is probably because of the satirical tone, I think more of the activists get killed from their own sheer stupidity in the plane crash and the immediate aftermath than ever do in the hands of the cannibals!

I did keep myself entertained throughout this section though by thinking it could play as a Great Peruvian Bake Off show (quite literally in the drugged body section! But also in the way the film post-butchery scenes seems to be trying to give the audience handy tips on laying out strips of meat and salting your legs for the perfect taste, or showing us the panic stations moment when the torso you have turns out to be just slightly too large for the mud hut oven that you have built in readiness!) mixed with a more threatening version of that Herbal Essences advert!

But this is also where Eli Roth's knowledge of the Italian cannibal genre gets shown, as he starts throwing in all the expected plot elements from that subgenre - there has to be the situation of the helpless catives watching in horror as their friends are butchered in front of them; there needs to be an almost successful, yet ultimately failed escape attempt; there has to be the burgeoning relationship between our main character and a sympathetic member of the tribe who will provide the final act opportunity of an escape (that member of the tribe getting found out and themselves punished is an optional extra); there has to be a fast flowing river crossing sequence (with or without threatening wildlife in or around the water); the female character has to get 'tribally prepared' by getting groped all over (in a great scene intercutting her preparation with the last sympathetic man in the group similarly being tenderised and basted!).
SpoilerShow
In particular Roth does a wonderful version of the final scene from Cannibal Ferox, of the return to civilisation and the heroine hiding the truth about cannibalism when questioned. Although in this case rather than the heroine not wanting to go to the trouble of having to re-draft her thesis in light of the new information she uncovered, in The Green Inferno its more about Justine wanting to preserve the cannibal village in order to give them time to finish Alejandro off!

(Though a really big failing of this film is that it fails to give Alejandro his more than deserved comeuppance, which of course all of the classic Italian cannibal films always ensured to do in spectacular and viscerally detailed fashion! Here it seems a set up for a sequel that looks likely to never be made, although I'd personally quite like to see "The Green Infernos", i.e. the Aliens to the first film's Alien in which Justine is forced back to where the horror all began!)
Really the only major Italian cannibal film trope that The Green Inferno lacks are scenes of real life animal violence. It does detract from the verisimilitude of the film a little, but I was honestly relieved that nothing like that cropped up! In fact one of the most amusing running jokes is that there are constant shots of pigs and cattle wandering around, as if relaxed now that the tribe has found a new food source! A chicken even gets cuddled at one point!

So I really enjoyed this film - its not nearly as transgressive or nasty as the films that inspired it, but gets about as close as a mainstream, Universal-distributed, film ever could to capturing the spirit of those films. And if you want more Roth puts a handy list of titles in the end credits for further viewing reference! Although, if anyone is interested in a more serious minded and less comic book-style gory take on the theme of a rainforest tribe meeting the modern world with an interesting culture clash twist that isn't afraid to tackle eco-terrorism and forced prostitution in its final stages, I'd be quicker to recommend John Boorman's wonderfully lyrical film The Emerald Forest.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:42 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: The Green Inferno (Eli Roth, 2015)

#7 Post by How rude! » Sun May 01, 2016 10:44 pm

Someone has uploaded a vid of all the deaths in the film to youtube.

Every scene is a spoiler!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsHgoJm97No

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colinr0380
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Re: The Green Inferno (Eli Roth, 2015)

#8 Post by colinr0380 » Sat May 07, 2016 5:51 am

I think the most interesting thing about that video is that it illustrates by omission that the most disturbing scenes of the film (basically everything that happens to Justine) aren't the death scenes!

I wonder if one of the problems with the film is that it has fallen between two stools - when it comes down to it the film appears strangely squeamish about the genital mutilation trope of these films (a strange sentence to write, perhaps only applicable to Italian cannibal and mondo films!) which when added to the primary villain not getting their comeuppance ("No comeuppance!", as Homer Simpson would say!) leaves the film without the spectacular third act coup de grace moments that are often used as the climax to films in this subgenre. I think it is also telling that the primary drug of choice for our Activists here is pot, compared to the cocaine-fuelled (quite literally according to the extra features on that disc) atrocities of Cannibal Ferox.

Yet on the other end of things simply just bringing up the extreme subject matter that this film deals with, and using it in an irreverent manner or as a standard action-horror beat has probably been enough in itself to drive critics and mainstream audiences away! (Not to mention that you're never going to get that glowing Guardian review by suggesting that certain left wing groups are run by people who have a cynical, appropriationary attitude towards human misery, more than willing to do deals with both sides to further their own ambitions!)

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