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"THE GREEN INFERNO"
(2015) (Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Horror: Student activists travel to Peru to stop the demolition of a rainforest and the destruction of a tribal village, only to be captured by cannibals.
PLOT:
Justine (LORENZA IZZO) is a freshman college student looking for a good cause to support. She becomes enamored with Alejandro (ARIEL LEVY), the leader of a campus activist group who is planning to take a group of students to Peru and protest a multinational corporation's efforts to bulldoze acres of rainforest, forcefully remove a primitive tribe from its village, and mine the land for its energy reserves. Against her father (RICHARD BURGI) and roommate Kaycee's (SKY FERREIRA) objections, Justine agrees to go with the group on their risky crusade.

Joining them are Alejandro's girlfriend, Kara (IGNACIA ALLAMAND); his supportive friend and follower, Jonah (AARON BURNS); lesbian couple Samantha (MAGDA APANOWICZ) and Amy (KIRBY BLISS BLANTON); stoner Lars (DARYL SABARA); and tech expert Daniel (NICOLAS MARTINEZ). Bankrolled by a shady Peruvian entrepreneur named Carlos (MATIAS LOPEZ), the student-activists aim to chain themselves to the corporation's bulldozers to provoke a response from the armed militia the company has employed as protection, and then broadcast the ensuing confrontation live over the Internet.

On the flight out of Peru, the student-activists' plane crashes, and the survivors are immediately captured by the very tribe they came down there to protect. They soon learn that no good deed goes unpunished, and that the tribespeople are actually cannibals intent on killing and eating each of them.

OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
For films not screened for the reviewing press, we only provide a few paragraphs of critical analysis.

I will say one really positive thing about "The Green Inferno." Writer-director Eli Roth made EXACTLY the film he wanted to make. Oh, sure. I am certain the MPAA forced him to make some cuts to the extremely graphic violence depicted in the film in order to get an R rating and onto 1,500+ North American screens. But, for the most part, the dude set out to make a gory cannibal movie about dumb, mostly white college kids trying to save the rainforests of South America only to fall into a nightmare ... and he succeeded.

The problem with the movie, though, is it doesn't really go for broke. Roth effectively plunges his audience into one of the most dire situations imaginable -- seven young activists are captured by cannibals and prepared for consumption -- but then his film takes too many pauses, breaks, and digressions and fails to really and truly grip us. The film needed to be relentless in the way the last 40 or so minutes of "Aliens" was or nearly the entirety of Mel Gibson's brutal "Apocalypto" was. It needed to leave its audience absolutely breathless, feeling that they just barely escaped as the end credits rolled. But the stops and starts doom this film, and all we're left with is a freak show that is only sporadically effective.

The film looks great. It was shot on location in Chile, and Roth used a plethora of real natives to play his primitive cannibals in this movie. And he gets mostly decent performances from his young cast, especially lead Lorenza Izzo as Justine, the privileged daughter of a U.N. attorney. But there is something really crass and off-putting about an early college lecture on female genital mutilation and how Roth then ties it in later with not one, but two scenes of Izzo and other young women characters being threatened with such barbarity for real. Similarly, a scene in which one of the women falls ill and lets loose a long stream of diarrhea should have been cut from the film entirely.

With Roth, it's all about the cringe. That's what he's really interested in. Well, he accomplished his mission here, but that doesn't mean it's worth experiencing. I rate it a 4.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed September 24, 2015 / Posted September 25, 2015


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