Are you looking for that something extra to jolt you out of life’s day-to-day doldrums? That little something to shock your system in to a complete state of hysteria? Something so odious and vile that your mind won’t know how to process the capital “G” grisly-gore? Your pals at the Scariest Things Podcast have found just the thing. Enter…Green Inferno.
When we say gory, we mean GORY. Eli Roth’s 2013 cannibal opus is 100 percent gory. Not silly schlocky gore either. This homage to the 1970s and 80s Italian carnage flicks is replete with tongue chopping, eye gouging, skin cooking insanity. How the MPAA opted for an R-13 “sanitized” version, or even the R-18 (?) versions of this film is beyond the beyond. We’re going to go out on a limb and say that former head of the MPAA, Jack Valenti, is rolling over in his grave. Especially since, by their own admission, the film contains: Aberrant Violence and Torture, Grisly Disturbing Images, Brief Graphic Nudity, Sexual Content, Language and Some Drug Use.
Green Inferno, while a gory-gooey mess, manages to take the cannibal horror trope — as firmly established the Italians — chop it up and turn it on its head. The film follows Justine (Lorenza Izzo) as a freshman college student at a well-to-do university. Early on Eli Roth introduces a seemless mix of social activism, college students being awakened to female genital mutilation, and Justine’s dad who just happens to be an attorney with the United Nations. In addition, to this laundry list of modern day socio-political concerns, Roth also manages to clearly illustrate that not everything is as it seems. The world is a far cry from the cause/effect cannibal horror of the 1970s. No longer are we dealing the simplicity of money-hungry westerners invading the jungle. Green Inferno paints a picture of an intertwined world where cannibalism is a complex business that doesn’t exist on a clean linear plane.
Justine becomes enomored by equal parts social activism, world travel, college experimentation, and a hunky activist, Alejandro. As she begins to explore the possibility of a jungle deforestation protest in an actual jungle, she’s pushed further in to the world of activism by her United Nations father who openly challenges her naive and simplistic social media mindset. Justine and her group of college cohorts, armed with iPhones and do-gooder spirit, connects up with their Peruvian contact, Carlos a local drug dealer who’s financed the entire protest effort.
Eventually the do-good kids get their chance to mix it up with an armed militia and the company conducting the deforestation, but their kerfuffle is quickly dispensed with as their activist efforts being trending on social media. As the group departs Peru, their high-fives, social media likes, and celebratory brewskis are terrifyingly interrupted by their plane crashing in the jungle. Yes, the same jungle they just tweeted about.
Some people survive the crash and others don’t. Those that do survive are instantly blow-darted and knocked unconscious. The surviving activists, Justine among them, are escorted to a nearby village. But not just any village, oh no, this is a cannibal village! As the group begins to sort though the very real fact that they are going to be eaten, the hunky activist Alejandro discloses that not only was the entire trip financed by a drug dealer it was put together benefit a rival timber company to highlight the horrifying inevitability of global deforestation.
Roth does an exemplary job of meting out all the various injustices of the world, while at the same time taking this bleak situation and making it impossibly darker with cannibalism, diarrhea, and genital mutilation. The Green Inferno succeeds on many levels and as soon as you think you have the story’s through line down pat, Roth throws another ghastly inject your way. Be forewarned, the Green Inferno is not an easy watch. It’s easily comparable to its Italian forebears, but frankly it feels a little darker. The only thing that Roth really eased up on was the Italian’s penchant for animal torture — so, the Green Inferno’s got that going for it.
Green Inferno is weirdly rated R and is available for streaming everywhere.
If Green Inferno seems a little too much for your sensibilities, be sure to check out the Scariest Things Podcast Episode 69 where we chewed on the cannibal trope and dug up a couple winners.