I love the horror genre, but I hate how repetitive it’s gotten lately. Due mostly in part to the success of films like Insidious and Paranormal Activity, it seems like almost every horror film these days takes an unimaginative approach to a subject that’s been done time and time again. Now I’m not saying that Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno is completely original (it isn’t), but it is a horror film that somehow feels surprisingly fresh, especially in today’s supernatural-heavy horror market. Originally meant to be released in 2014, the film was delayed by a year after financial troubles with Worldview Entertainment. It’s finally seeing the light of day thanks to Blumhouse Tilt and horror fans should be thankful because this is a bloody, brutal and often frightening journey into the heart of a cannibalistic nightmare.

Justine (Lorenza Izzo) is a college freshman who has become fascinated with a group of social activists and their exotic leader Alejandro (Ariel Levy). After a friendly member of the group named Jonah (Aaron Burns) invites her to a meeting, Justine feels the need to accompany them on a trip to Peru. Deforestation has been ravaging the jungle down there and it’s about to destroy a never before seen culture of native Peruvians. The group plans to stand in front of the loggers that are destroying the jungle and broadcast their protest onto the internet. But when their plane unexpectedly crashes, the students find themselves captured by the very Peruvians they were trying to save. And unfortunately for them, this tribe has an unexpected appetite for human flesh.

The Green Inferno is clearly inspired by 1980’s Cannibal Holocaust, but it’s more of an ode to that film than a rip-off. Eli Roth is almost certainly having a ball working in the same territory as one of his favorite horror films. There have been reports of people fainting in the theater due to the intensity of this film and while I certainly didn’t come close to feeling that, it can be pretty tough to watch at times, especially if you’re not used to extreme blood and gore. Probably the most brutal scene occurs when the group first arrives in the tribe’s camp and one of them is selected to be devoured. It’s extremely graphic and there’s nothing that you or anyone else can do but watch this poor student get eaten alive. None of the performances in the film are especially great, but the actors all do a good job at making us care for their characters, so when things go wrong, we actually feel really bad for them.

But it’s not just the blood and gore that makes the film scary; there are some legitimately tense sequences, most notably one where Justine is unable to lock herself up to a tree at the start of their protest. And some of the members of the tribe are terrifying as well, including a fierce looking bald headhunter (Ramón Llao) and a spooky looking village elder (Antonieta Pari). This all combines into a satisfyingly visceral horror experience that stands out as something unique in today’s horror landscape. But the film isn’t without its wit as Roth uses this group of student activists to poke fun at a culture of young people who feel the need to save something they hardly know anything about. It might be tough to watch these college kids get eaten alive, but horror fans should not let this excursion into the jungle pass them by.

The Green Inferno receives 3/4

Advertisements