Plot: What’s it about?
I have been a fan of Eli Roth ever since I watched Cabin Fever in the theaters while working at the Gulf Breeze Cinema. Since his first film, Eli Roth films have always been an acquired taste and they are specifically aimed at horror film enthusiasts that don’t mind if things veer toward the grotesque or the darkly comic. When he released Hostel, I knew for sure I was on board with his style of film lunacy and it was my favorite theatrical experience of 2005. Since then I had seen every film he released with the exception of The Green Inferno. I had meant to sit down and watch it when I preordered the original release, but for some reason I had forgotten to check it out. When I saw that Shout!Factory was releasing a Collector’s Edition, I preordered it to receive the poster and signed slipcover. Over the weekend, I sat down to check the film out!
Justine (Lorenza Izzo) is a college freshmen living in a dorm in New York City. When a group of activists draw her attention with their protests, she is attracted to their leader Alejandro (Ariel Levy.) When she bumps into a friendly member named Jonah (Aaron Burns) he invites her to check the group out. Alejandro challenges Justine’s character when he dismisses her from the group for not taking the group’s ideas seriously. When she hears from her professor about female genital mutilation in Africa, she reaches out to her father who works at the U.N. Let down that she can not affect change immediately through the U.N., Justine comes back to the group with a revitalized sense of purpose. She decides to join the activist group on a trip to Peru to try to stop some bulldozers from destroying the habitat of an indigenous tribe. In the jungles of Peru, they infiltrate the bulldozing company and manage to pull off their publicity stunt to stop the bulldozers, but Justine is used as a prop to effect change and her life is put into unnecessary danger. On the plane ride back, their plane crashes and the group of activists find themselves surrounded by sadistic violent cannibals that believe that they have come from the bulldozing company. Trapped and without communication, the activists begin to get murdered by the cannibals in the most grotesque fashion imaginable.
The Green Inferno is not for the faint of heart or stomach. READ THAT LINE AGAIN. This film features some of the most stomach-churning and nauseating violent acts put to celluloid. If this is not going to sit well with you, why read any further? The film was widely criticized when it was released for being disgusting or abhorrent, but I don’t know what they expected. This film is a throw back picture to the days of Cannibal Ferox and Cannibal Holocaust. This is a genre that fell out of favor in the early Eighties and has not seen a resurgence aside from this picture, but it does have its admirers. For myself, this is probably my least favorite genre of the exploitative horror films. That said, I wanted to see Eli Roth’s take on it, so here I am discussing the film.
The Green Inferno is not my favorite Eli Roth film, but it would be insane to say that the film is poorly made or ineffective. From the moment the cannibals arrive in the film, the film has a nightmarish quality that is hard to describe. First and foremost – the filmmaking here took an enormous amount of skill and hard work. To create this picture they had to set up camp in a small incredibly poor area of Peru, teach the native people there what a movie was, and convince the town elders to allow them to film there. The effect is palpable and lends the film much more authenticity than if it had been filmed on a backlot in Los Angeles. I can not imagine how difficult of a shoot it was to make this film. Anybody who derides the filmmaking prowess here is simply wrong. Secondly – the writing of the film was largely derided for being juvenile. This is an issue that has been brought up about every one of Eli Roth’s projects and I feel like it is a bit overblown. The characters talk like immature dolts because they are immature dolts. I have encountered enough people that talk this way that I have never found any issue with his handle on dialogue. I think it is a silly argument, but I disagree with those people.
So, why was this film derided by so many critics? My argument would be that the film is too effective. When the cannibals dissect characters in the film, it is truly horrific. Watching the film, I felt nauseous to my stomach and regretted watching the film directly after a long day of flights and airports. I found the experience of watching this film difficult due to the extremity of the violence. I also found it somewhat dumbfounding that this film only received an R rating versus an NC-17. It is that rough. I think it would be okay to argue that the film goes too far, and I can understand disliking it because of the content within it. For myself? While I appreciated the movie for what it was, I am not sure that it is something I would want to watch again anytime soon.
The acting in the film is pretty solid. Lorenza Izzo has starred in a couple of Eli Roth’s films and she is really enjoyable here. She throws herself into the role and it is a very demanding one. I hope that she keeps getting parts in films, because I have liked her in everything so far. Ariel Levy is fun as the charismatic and cold blooded Alejandro. He carries that role well. The Peruvians win the award for the most realistic and captivating performances. They are unforgettable!
Video: How’s it look?
The Green Inferno is presented on Blu-ray with an MPEG-4 AVC encoded 1080p transfer in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. This release seems to have come from the digital files used for the theatrical version, so I thought that the film looked pretty great. The film was shot on digital cameras and it has that crisp look that you would expect. Fine detail is excellent. I did not notice any noticeable compression issues. The cinematography by Antonio Quercia is pretty excellent and the jungle surroundings are lush visually. Overall, it looks as good as it would have on the big screen. From what I can tell this is the same transfer used by the previous Universal release.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The Green Inferno has a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track that sounds pretty huge. The film utilizes a drum heavy score by Manuel Riverio that ratchets up the intensity of the film. The film has a surround presence that uses the full range of your system. It is a well-made track with a lot of atmosphere.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- CD Soundtrack – includes the exclusive original CD soundtrack by Manuel Riverio with bonus tracks not included in the film
- Into The Green Inferno – this new interview with co-writer/producer/director Eli Roth is fantastic. Running nearly an hour long, this piece is absolutely fantastic. Similar to watching the excellent Burden of Dreams about Werner Herzog’s quest to make Fitzcarraldo, Eli Roth had to put in a tremendous amount of effort to realize his vision. The piece is also very funny due to ROth’s great sense of humor. Even if the film is not your cup of tea, this piece is fantastic.
- Uncivilized Behavior: Method Acting in The Green Inferno – this new piece features interviews with actors Lorenza Izzo, Daryl Sabara and Kirby Bliss Blanton.
- Behind the Scenes footage – nearly an hour of never-before-seen footage
- Audio Commentary – co-writer/producer/director Eli Roth, producer Nicolás López and cast members Lorenza Izzo, Aaron Burns, Kirby Bliss Blanton and Daryl Sabara all have a lively and fun discussion reminiscing about the hard work that went into the film.
- Featurettes – including The Making of The Green Inferno and three very small EPK style pieces.
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spots
- Still Galleries
The Bottom Line
The Green Inferno is only going to appeal to the most hardcore horror enthusiasts out there. The movie is incredibly effective but that also means the film is relentlessly brutal, grotesque, and nauseating. This is Eli Roth’s Inferno, and it is nightmarish and hellacious. I will probably not revisit this film anytime soon, but I appreciate the immense amount of work and imagination that went into the film. Shout!Factory has provided a great looking transfer of the film but it seems to be the same transfer as the 2013 Blu-ray. The real draw here for fans is the incredible array of featurettes including a nearly hour long interview with Eli Roth. This package is a substantial upgrade over the half-decade old blu-ray from Universal, but fans happy without the supplemental materials will not be as inclined to double dip.