By Billy Huntsman
I like to think director Eli Roth woke up one night, cried out, “I have to make a movie where cannibals get high and get the munchies!” and thus was conceived The Green Inferno.
This statement will make sense to you after you see the film, and you should see it.
Because it’s about cannibals, and movies about cannibalism are awesome.
If you don’t believe me, then you’ve never seen The Silence of the Lambs.
A quick overview of The Green Inferno: A group of college student-activists travel to Peru in order to hamper the progress of a corporation demolishing the Amazon. They succeed, and just as their plane gets back into the air to take them back to the States, an engine blows out, and the plane nosedives straight back into the jungle, where half of the students are killed, and the remainder are taken hostage by a native tribe who lather themselves in blood.
One of the most admirable things about the film is the dedication Roth (who wrote the film, in addition to directing it) clearly demonstrates in researching how to go about cooking human flesh.
The cannibalism in The Green Inferno is not gratuitous, savage, superfluous. The flesh the tribe members eat is given the same attention the head chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant would give a filet mignon. It’s cooked and smoked very thoroughly in mud ovens, the fumes seeping out of the top to waft through the village and surely make the mouths of the tribe members water. Human flesh is surely not an everyday delicacy for them, it’s a treat, such as a crème brûlée would be a treat for you and me.
Watching the film and Roth’s detailed depictions of cooking and carving of human flesh, I was reminded of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, and the research that great author surely put into his opus, researching how the Apache waged battle—scalping, cannibalizing, sodomizing—as well as how a desperate man might make gunpowder out of volcanic material.
The acting in The Green Inferno is not great, though I suspect it’s because the film spent most of its $6 million budget for location fees, prosthetics, red-colored corn syrup, and everything else, and I’d say it was worth it.
Roth, whose previous directorial efforts number only three—2002’s Cabin Fever, 2005’s Hostel and Hostel 2 in 2007—has expanded his range as a filmmaker, as a storyteller. He’s proved he can create more than just torture-porn, although there surely is enough of that subgenre in The Green Inferno to satisfy any post-Saw cravings one may have.
I saw The Green Inferno on a Saturday night, not expecting a great turnout, but was quite surprised to find the theater almost three-thirds full before the start of the film. I remember thinking, “They must not have read about this film.”
And there certainly was a pallor of queasiness cast over most of the audience members once a tribe member gouged out a student-activist’s eyes, severed his tongue. I felt people squirm in the seats beside mine once a female-activist’s genitalia were threatened with mutilation by a rock-sharpened dagger.
The film is certainly not for everyone, nor indeed is it a Saturday date-night kind of film. But if you—and if you’re lucky enough, your significant other—need to get your fix of cinematic extremism, repulsion, and perversion of societal norms, you need to see The Green Inferno.