I encounter more than my share of donkey crap movies over the course of the year — even with palming some off on other reviewers. That is nothing new, nor is it even unusual (see The Visit from a couple weeks back). What is unusual is to find a movie that earns the phrase “I hate this movie” — simply because a lousy movie strikes me as a waste of such a powerful emotion. Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno has no trouble being on the receiving end of that rare accolade. None at all. Now, before Mr. Roth gets all pleased with himself for having outraged or offended or nauseated me — or whatever emotional response he was after — let me set the record straight. I was not outraged, offended or nauseated. No, mostly I was bored beyond human endurance, cheesed over having wasted my afternoon and slightly embarrassed by being a member of the same species as the makers of this extract of cinematic effluvia. I once denounced a Nicolas Cage movie as a “moose fellation party.” This is more like a moose fellation orgy — but with entrails.
As I had expected, The Green Inferno was about a bunch of people you never heard of (and Daryl Sabara — generally known as “that boy from Spy Kids“) being eaten by a bunch of extras you never heard of. Of course, since it was made by the king of torture porn, Eli Roth, the entrées are subjected to various indignities involving humiliation and torture. In Roth’s world, this passes for characterization. There’s also some kind of attempt at a story — or at least a situation that puts these folks on the bill of fare at the Cannibal Hilton. What this amounts to is engineering a plane crash in the Amazon jungle that will put our over-privileged American activists at the mercy of this unappreciative pack of cannibals whose dietary practices are inimical to good fellowship. It’s a toss-up as to whether Roth’s sneering attitude toward environmentalist activists or his 1950s jungle-movie view of Peruvian Indians is more repugnant. The fact that none of this can be taken seriously perhaps makes it not matter very much.
The film’s actual raison d’être of course is to shock and horrify the viewer. At least, I can only assume that’s the idea, because the movie is never even slightly scary — it’s simply gross, confusing the merely repellent with the horrific. I suppose that The Green Inferno might prove shocking — even a real stomach-churner (assuming that can be considered desirable) — for someone who has never encountered this kind of bath-full-of-blood-and-a-bucket-of-giblets moviemaking. However, at this point in time — over 40 years after The Exorcist and Flesh for Frankenstein and over 50 years after the gore-sploitation drive-in fodder of Herschell Gordon Lewis — what horror movie maven is likely to be even slightly startled? Hell, the business of cutting out an eye and eating it dates back to 1934’s exploitation “classic” Maniac, though there it was cat’s eye (or more correctly, a grape masquerading as one). Tormenting a victim by covering them with something sweet and staking them to an ant mound is older than movies. The idea that all this is an homage to 1980’s Cannibal Holocaust — perhaps the movie least in need of such a thing — excuses nothing.
Throwing in a little female genital mutilation is perhaps a new wrinkle, but not one we needed or wanted — and it’s so vaguely depicted that we only know what’s going on because of a college lecture in the movie’s interminable opening scenes. There’s also a dumb wanking gag that makes little sense. There’s an even dumber bit involving distracting the cannibals by shoving a small bag of marijuana down the throat of a soon-to-be-roasted victim. Yeah, it gets them high, but it also gives them the munchies — with predictable results. The less said about the diarrhea business (talk about Montezuma’s revenge!) the better. Is all this repulsive? Of course it is. Is any of it scary or entertaining? Not in the least. The only scary thing here is that since The Green Inferno has been gathering dust since 2013, we are down for another Eli Roth movie — Knock Knock — in two weeks. Looks like another wasted afternoon is soon to be mine. On the plus side, it can hardly be worse than this thing. Rated R for aberrant violence and torture, grisly disturbing images, brief graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use.