Green Inferno


Eli Roth’s Best Movie Yet, That, Unfortunately, No One Will See

Main Cast: Lorenza Izzo

Director: Eli Roth

I mentioned to my daughter that The Green Inferno was coming out and she said, “I want to see that.” My daughter, who watches “Dr. Who” and “Hannibal” with me wanted to go see a movie about cannibals. Yep, that sounds about right.

So we went. And we both loved it. I’m more a fan of Eli Roth as an actor than I am a filmmaker. Personally, I think Cabin Fever is a deeply flawed movie, and Hostel was alright, but nothing special. The Green Inferno, however, is all kinds of awesome.

We meet Justine (Lorenza Izzo, Aftershock), college student and daughter to a UN lawyer, being woken up by protesters outside her window trying to get medical insurance for the janitorial staff at their unnamed college. She notices the leader of the protesters, but wishes they would protest just a little quieter. Later, she learns about female circumcision in one of her classes and is appalled that things like this are allowed to happen in the world and no one’s doing anything about it.

After class, she’s met by Jonah who tells her she should come to a meeting later that night, that he and this group he’s a part of are organizing a protest to help make some real change in the world and do some good.

Justine attends the meeting but, in her naiveté, offends Alejandro, the leader of the group. She later apologizes, and he invites her to join them on their upcoming trip to Peru. There’s a corporation tearing through the forest down there, he says, and they’re about to wipe out one of the native tribes just so they can get to the natural gas they’ve discovered. Alejandro and his group are going to chain themselves to the trees and film the workers and their security force, broadcast on the internet what’s going on down there and shame them into leaving.

Surprisingly, it works, and the construction crew is sent packing. Celebrating, the protesters board a plane to return home victorious, but the plane crashes and the group–those who survive the crash, that is–find themselves at the mercy of the very tribe they were trying to save. Turns out the tribe doesn’t care, they just want to eat.

The Green Inferno is not a perfect movie, by any means. The pacing is WAY slow. We’re halfway through the movie before we even meet the tribe. There’s just way too much set up on this protest and getting to the location. I could have used a little less character building of, let’s be honest, a couple characters who didn’t even make it past the plane crash, and a little more time on the exciting stuff. But once things got moving, they didn’t slow down for a second.

Roth may have gone a little heavy on the humor, but considering how heavy the subject matter gets, some levity was definitely in order. Maybe just not so much of it.

And once they’re captured, the structure of the story, really, just turns into any other slasher formula where characters are picked off one by one and the only question is who’s next and how do they die?

But despite the flaws, I loved this movie and will be buying it when the DVD comes out.

Lorenza Izzo was great as Justine. My ONLY problem with Izzo was that Justine was described by one of the characters as a white girl, but Izzo is clearly not that. Then they show Justine having dinner with her UN lawyer father, played by New Jersey-born Richard Burgi (“Desperate Housewives”) and it’s clear the Chilean Izzo is NOT his biological daughter, so Justine was either adopted or her mother was SUPER South American. I’m leaning more toward Roth was still courting his future wife at the time this movie was made and put her in the lead. That’s not to say she didn’t earn her spot, she’s the best actress in the movie. But it’s clearly a case of miscasting when the actress and the part are so out of synch.

That being said, Izzo was fantastic and soon made me forget the few minor problems I was having with her characters background.

Another standout was former Spy Kid Daryl Sabara who stole the show when he got onscreen. Every movie group like this needs a stoner with too much energy and Sabara played it perfectly. And I have to say he had the second-best death scene, following one of the best gags of the entire movie. Hey, here’s a survival tip for you, if you’re being held by cannibals, DO NOT get them high on weed. Just saying.

Since seeing this movie, I’ve heard several pod cast reviews that enjoyed the movie, but thought the ending was terrible, but I disagree. Spoilers follow:

After Justine is rescued, she returns home and lies about what happened. She tells authorities that the tribe took very good care of her and that it was the mercenaries hired by the corporation that were the bad guys who killed everyone. Some reviewers didn’t get why she would do that, but I thought it was obvious: by putting the blame on the corporations and painting the tribesmen as caring and kind, she has caused the authorities to step in and put a stop to the deforestation that she went there to stop in the first place. Once Alejandro tells Justine, while being held captive, that the whole protest was a farce and that he was hired by a rival corporation and that the bulldozers are going to be there anyway, only a few days later than planned, and this time with a different crew operating them, Justine has made sure, once she returns, that all of this wasn’t for naught. She went there to effect change and if she couldn’t do it the way she’d originally planned, she makes sure to do it in whatever way she can. If making the people who murdered and ate her colleagues seem like the victims, then so be it. She went there for a purpose, and by God she’s going to make it happen, proving that one person CAN make a difference and they don’t have to stage ineffectual protests to do it.

This whole thing is seen as a statement on Roth’s part about “social justice warriors” and what he calls “slacktivists”, those people who TALK a good game, but don’t actually DO anything to make the changes they say need to be made. I think it’s a great commentary, and I loved the was Justine did what she set out to do in the beginning.

While I think The Green Inferno takes some patience to get to the good stuff, that good stuff was totally worth the wait and this movie is definitely worth seeing in theaters, if you can find it. I don’t think it got quite the wide release it should have. What this movie does for me is show that Eli Roth is growing as a filmmaker. The effects were better, the story was better, the dialogue was LOADS better than Cabin Fever, and his directing is the best I’ve ever seen it. The Green Inferno is finally Roth coming into his own as a horror director and I’m definitely going to be in line for whatever he does next.

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