The Jungle Cookbook
by Brody Rossiter
I’m not going to pretend that there’s an intricate subtext of themes lying beneath the copious amounts of bodily matter splashed across Eli Roth’s Green Inferno. Yes, the protagonists are vacuous, and illegal deforestation is undoubtedly a considerable world issue, but ultimately were here to watch a group of irritating students be dispatched in a variety of squirm-inducing ways.
Paying homage to 1980’s infamous Italian video nasty, Cannibal Holocaust, Roth packs the bags of a group of Columbia University freshmen who plan to expose illegal logging in the Amazonian rainforest and halt the eradication of ancient tribes. The problem is, the ancient tribes of Green Inferno aren’t accustomed to the modern world in which we don’t greet one another with an arrow to the face or feast on human flesh. Following a successful protest, the group’s Peruvian adventure quickly crash lands and becomes a gruesome exercise in imprisonment and mutilation.
It’s easy to overlook and dismiss Roth’s picture. The acting on display is often irredeemable, the plot is always steering toward the hack and slash of a body as opposed to a revelation, and most viewers are well aware now that they’re more likely to be grossed-out than legitimately scared. However, Roth is still dedicated to this especially gory horror sub-genre, and he’s very competent at producing such content. You can argue that there’s little worth in watching the human form be barbarically dissected, but Roth still dissects it in a manner that still provokes a very physical and disquieting reaction.
The social justice movement lies squarely in the director’s sights, but it’s difficult to really contemplate larger societal issues when you’re wiping the blood off your face. This is the kind of movie you watch with friends just to see their reactions. The Green Inferno boils with a feverish thirst for blood, it’s a shame that the meal at the end doesn’t consist of much more than just some dismembered limbs. But again, we all know what we’re here for, so you may as well dig in.