For a good chunk of its running time, Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno is, unquestionably, his worst movie yet. Then, a plane crashes in the jungle culminating in some annoying college students winding up on an indigenous tribe’s picnic menu. With this, the film offers a few good gross-outs. In the end, The Green Inferno winds up being in stiff competition with Hostel 2 for the worst Roth film, rather than being the hands-down winner.
The main protagonist in this messed-up movie is Justine (Lorenza Izzo), a somber college student whose dad works for the United Nations. Justine gets woken up in the morning by a band of protestors trying to get benefits for the college janitors. The group is led by Alejandro (Ariel Levy), your typical acoustic guitar-strumming, throw-your-arms-around-the-whole-world activist asshole.
Justine is recruited for a trip to the Amazon jungle where Alejandro plans to disrupt some bulldozers meant to displace tribes and wreck the forest. She’s grouped with a band of mostly forgettable performers, and the movie is unspeakably bad during its first half. Bad acting, bad writing, bad set design, bad outfits, bad fake tattoos. Just about everything that could be bad in a movie is bad during this film’s build up.
Then, the group’s plane crashes, and the natives who find them are not only restless, but really, really hungry. The crew is horrifically groped as they are led to a cage. Things are going generally bad for the students, and then they get really bad when the leader of the tribe pokes the eyes out of a living victim and eats them for good measure. Said victim is then chopped into pieces—still alive—and put in a smoker—I think he was dead by then—for a good old-fashioned Amazonian barbecue.
This grisly scene, concocted by Roth and makeup artists Ozzy Alvarez and Jonah Levy, is, dare I say, awesome. It’s terrifying, and it’s gross in that way only us zombie movie fans will appreciate. I’d put it in league with that kid getting his mouth ripped open on The Walking Dead and any number of disembowelments from the earlier Romero zombie films. In short … BLECCHH!!!
There’s an uncomfortable plot thread involving female genital mutilation that I could’ve done without, and a couple of other gore sequences—Spy Kid Daryl Sabara has a rather bad time in this movie—that don’t compare to the first “feeding,” but they are pretty good.
It’s hard to say who’s the worst performer in this film. Maybe singer Sky Ferreira, who pollutes a good portion of the movie’s Manhattan scenes? Or Aaron Burns (also on the film’s effects crew), who is terrible in his straight acting scenes. I think I will let Burns off the hook for he’s the movie’s first cannibal victim, and he dies well. The winner for shittiest The Green Inferno performance is Sky Ferreira!
The tribe, with extras played by actual jungle villagers, was allegedly recruited to be in the movie after Roth showed them Cannibal Holocaust, a major inspiration for this movie. (This is according to the Internet Movie Database.) They are the best performers in the movie, making the most of Roth’s ugly one-note script.
The movie was completed over two years ago, held up by financial mumbo-jumbo, and nearly thrown on the permanent scrap heap. Save for about 15 minutes, Roth should’ve let this one stay buried. It’s notoriety as an unreleased film was sort of cool, much cooler than the movie itself. Roth is generally a hit-or-miss director, and this one is a giant whiff.
Up next for Roth is Knock, Knock, a horror film about infidelity starring Izzo and Keanu Reeves. After that, he’s supposed to direct a giant shark movie, Meg. If Knock, Knock fails as bad as The Green Inferno, Roth might not get to make his prehistoric shark movie. Heck, he might not get to make any big movies for a very long time.