Justine joins Alejandro’s social activists group after seeing that they had real results at her university getting janitors health coverage. Soon she finds herself going to the Amazon forest in Peru to save a small village from being destroyed by a company wanting the natural gas found under the area they occupy. The group goes to Peru, does their thing, and then heads back home. However, they do not make it home as their plane crashes in the Amazon. A part of the group dies in the crash in various horrible ways. As the survivors escape the wreckage, the villagers they came to save attack them killing a few more and taking the six last survivors with them. It quickly becomes clear that the captives are meant to be breakfast, lunch, and dinner as the first member is dispatched gruesomely and cooked.
The story by Guillermo Amoedo and Eli Roth is a basic cannibal in the jungle one, filled with the usual cruelty towards people, gruesome scenes, borrowed ideas, and a few plot holes. The story takes about 45 minutes to get to the cannibalism promised, dragging a bit on its way, making gorehounds wish they could skip the character building and bonding. The attempt at making the leads more human is well done but it slows the story down quite a bit. The characters are a bit cliché, being typical people found in horror fare. The group of students is filled with mainly annoying people and a few douchebags. The “bad” guys here, the company mercenaries and the cannibals, are barely developed. This all leads to the audience not really caring who dies and who lives. But! This is not really an issue as one goes into this movie hoping to see the leads die horribly and making them unlikable at first and less as the movie goes along makes their deaths a bit more satisfying… maybe.
Eli Roth did not only co-write The Green Inferno, but also directed it, putting his personal touch on everything. This film is exactly what viewers have come to expect from Roth. The performances are good, the gore as well, but there is not much suspense or tension. He directs fun, gross movies and this is right along his usual ways. It will not change the minds of his detractors and his fans should greatly enjoy the proceedings. As usual, he keeps the camera on the tougher scenes. Sometimes cutting just before “the” moment, others lingering extra time to make it more Uncomfortable or impactful. It must be noted that The Green Inferno is not his best b=work but the direction is still good, not genre shattering but good nonetheless.
As for the victims, err, cast… The students are led by Ariel Levy as Alejandro and Lorenza Izzo as Justine who both play each of their archetypes (self-centered douchebag and sweet girl stuck in a bad situation) quite well. They do well with the material given, especially as they mainly just need to portray fear for a good part of the film (for Justine) and contempt (for Alejandro). Bliss Blanton, Magda Apanowicz, Ignacia Allaman, Daryl Sabara, and Nicolas Martinez do well with the not quite fleshed out parts they are given. The villagers and their leaders, the Bald Headhunter (Ramon Llao) and The Elder (Antonieta Pari), do that they can with their almost inexistent dialog but never fully come off as dangerous, menacing, or scary.
As with any gory horror film, the effects credited to Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero in some places and to Ozzy Alvarez and Jonah Levy on IMDB, are bloody and good. The dead bodies look great and rightfully gross. The piece de resistance scene is super bloody, full of gore, and puke-inducing to some. For the worldlier horror fans, they will wish there were more scenes like this one and that it happened to more of the students. The gore is satisfying but not as much as expected from this subgenre and from all the hype surrounding the film.
Also noteworthy, the score here is more classical in style, giving the film a more serious tone and bringing it closer to others it tries to emulate. It brings a calm to an otherwise very loud film, filled with shrieks, screams, and chants. With the score comes the cinematography. The opening sequence and when the students first get to Peru are stunning shots, establishing the Amazon as a place of pristine natural beauty, which offers a stark contrast with the subject matter, the violence, and the gore.
The Green Inferno is a fairly fun cannibal movie even though it feels like it takes forever to get going and to the point. It attempts to have a message, but does it really need one? The gore is good, the characters are unlikable. The ending suggests a sequel but its opening weekend box office suggests otherwise. It is still worth a watch, but needs to be approached without letting the hype overshadow the potential fun.