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Friday, 24 February 2017

The Thin White Dude's (Capsule) Reviews - The Green Inferno

Directed by: Eli Roth

Produced by: Eli Roth
Miguel Asensio
Nicolas Lopez
Christopher Woodrow
Molly Conners
Jason Blum

Screenplay by: Guillermo Amoedo
Eli Roth

Story by: Eli Roth

Starring: Lorenza Izzo
Ariel Levy
Daryl Sabara
Kirby Bliss Stanton
Sky Ferreira
Magda Apanowicz
Nicolas Martinez
Aaron Burns
Ignacia Allamund
Ramon Llao
Richard Burgi

Music by: Manuel Riveiro

Cinematography by: Antonio Quercia

Editing by: Ernesto Diaz Espinoza

Studio(s): Worldview Entertainment
Dragonfly Entertainment
Sobras International Pictures

Distributed by: BH Tilt
High Top Releasing
Universal Pictures

Release date(s): September 8, 2013 (TIFF)
September 25, 2015 (United States)
February 12, 2016 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 100 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $5 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $12, 931, 569

Under the knife here is Eli Roth's The Green Inferno, a film that originally screened for the first time back in 2013 at that year's Toronto International Film Festival, but which, due to the financial difficulties of production company Worldview Entertainment, saw Open Road Films pull the intended fall 2014 release. It didn't end up getting a theatrical release in the United States until fall 2015 through the efforts of Blumhouse Productions, and wasn't released in the United Kingdom until February of 2016. So, even though it was finished quite a good time ago, hopefully this gives a little context as to why I'm reviewing this film which for all intents and purposes is nearly four years old. This film, inspired by and purposefully intended as an homage to the late-1970s and early-1980s cannibal boom of Italian cannibal-themed movies, sees Roth directing a story about a group of college-based social activists going to the Amazon rainforest to stop a logging company from obliterating the local environment and tribal communities, when what do you know, they are abducted and help captive by a cannibalistic tribe. Got it? Good!

Starting off with what the film does good, the cinematographer Antonio Quercia takes advantage of the visual prowess that comes with the location shoot, and shows them off in all of their glory. Also, for all the nastiness of some of the film's imagery, it cannot be said that there is some very skilful and picaresque shot composition here. Speaking of nasty, there are a number of instances when the brutal violence in the film is used to strong effect. There's a particularly grotesque sequence which serves as the characters and our introduction to the world of the cannibal tribe in the film which I do have to admit had me dry-heaving. There's no shying away from any of it, and it is all graphically brought to life with some excellent make-up and special effects, and because Roth designs the film as such that the tension is drawn out before we are thrown right into the thick of things, it does come across as legitimately horrifying. Also, there is a high standard of costume and make-up used to realise the members of the cannibal tribe, so there's another good thing. Finally, while not given a particularly strong character to deal with, I cannot deny the commitment behind Lorenza Izzo's lead performance and that there could be potential for better things in the future.

Which, of course, brings me to the negative side of things. Admittedly, The Green Inferno is not a bad movie, but it is, for all of the suspense of it's first half, a rather dull film that fails to live up to it's promise. As far as the script goes, once you get past that sequence I just mentioned, it's all downhill from there, as the film peaks too early, and frankly there isn't enough character development to keep me engaged in the story. Also, when it comes down to plot, there isn't really one of particular significance to talk about. The central twist which is meant to serve as the film's 'great revelation' is quite clear to see a mile off (I think it was somewhere around the twenty-minute mark I mentally called it), so it's also fairly predictable, and Roth and fellow-screenwriter Guillermo Amoedo just resort to going into a cheap bag of lowest common denominator tricks. It's the cinematic equivalent of getting the slapped in the face with a dildo; just because it's shocking and/or outrageous doesn't mean that it's a credible plot point or carries anything of intrinsic value. As regards to actors, it's a shame that none of them get the ability to do anything worth talking about, but that's not necessarily their fault, given that on paper they are written as two-dimensional wafer-thin tropes. At one point, there's an exchange between characters as to why one won't eat the food the natives give them to keep them alive, to which the character responds "I'm a vegan," a throwaway line that's almost like "oh yeah, of course, haha, that it explains everything." Admittedly, as a vegetarian I'm slightly biased, but it's indicative of the cheap, lazy attitude and approach that is taken towards these characters. We are supposed to be caring about them and their plight, not picking up stupid prejudices and misconceptions about people who don't eat meat! As I said, I can't get overly annoyed and don't think it's a bad film, but it's frustrating when you know that Eli Roth has potential to do something good with this interesting premise that carries with it political implications and instead drops the ball.

Righto, there you have it. While I do think there are things worthy of merit with The Green Inferno, specifically the cinematography, the make-up and costume design, the drawing out of it's first half and some well-executed violence, with one particularly grotesque sequence an indicator of what could have been, ultimately the film as a whole is still lacking. It's not a bad film, but it's dull and tedious, featuring no engaging characters, all of whom are underdeveloped, a predictable plot you can see a country mile off and a degree of lazy, lowest-common denominator perspective that doesn't give the film any real intrinsic value. It may be striving after the likes of Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust, a troubling film in it's own right (regardless of what it adds to their work, no filmmaker should stage and film such acts of barbarous animal cruelty), but one which has a thought-provoking social commentary and is years ahead of it's time as far as narrative filmmaking. The Green Inferno, disappointingly, is lacking in that department.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 4.1/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Getting there

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