Toronto International Film Festival 2013 | The Green Inferno (2013)
I need to take a shower. That is how I felt after the screening of Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno which premiered here at the Toronto International Film Festival. Roth’s film – his first behind the camera since Hostel 2 – is so over the top violent that I felt I was soaked in blood, sweat and spit just from sitting in the screening room.
The premise of the film is just a needs to an end. Justine (Lorenza Izzo) and a group of tree hugging fundamentalists are in the Peruvian jungle attempting to save the cutting down of the ecosystem’s trees. But after a plane crash leaves them stranded in the jungle, they find themselves on the dinner menu of an Amazonian tribe who like their outsiders raw and skinned. The small group of activists are no match for the stronger-in-number tribe and the ordeals to which many of the group are put through will leave many unexpecting audience members heading to the door.
Eli Roth has always had a love for cannibals. We recently caught up with him on his last trip to Toronto where he talked about the classics, Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox (a screening of Cannibal Ferox and a discussion followed). Roth believed that cannibalism is one of the last few horror genres that has not been fully explored or exploited unlike the ghost stories and serial killer films that clog our horror designated screens.
So with a whole sub-genre in which to capitalize, Roth pulls no punches. He sets up the characters stories (spending what I can only guess as being over 30-minutes) before the group meets their chefs. And then, the carnage begins!
To say that The Green Inferno is violent is to suggest that bears shit in the woods. And this is one big ass violent shit! People are skinned alive, eaten, tortured and basically just torn apart. It can, at times, make Hostel look like a Tom & Jerry cartoon.
In most experiences with consistent and over-the-top violence, I would get bored of the constant bloodletting without the script or motivation behind the violence to make the film cohesive (I’m looking at you, Grotesque). But The Green Inferno is SO violent and SO nasty that each new skin snack is unique and ups the ante from the previous stomach turner. Watching the audience react and a few unsuspecting leave the theatre before the end credits was a testament to Roth’s vision. Roth’s brilliance is having the first film focus on the beauty and the splendour of the setting only to rip our guts out unsympathetically in the last reels.
Roth has already revealed that The Green Inferno will get a sequel (I think the harder task is getting this clear NC-17 film into theatres!), and a final shot sets things up perfectly even if not so believably. I am not quite sure where he could go with the premise. The 45-minutes of violence was just about as much as a sitting audience can take. Still, the idea is intriguing and it is in the proper hands, so time will tell.
Where does this rank amongst Roth’s filmography? Good question (glad I asked myself). I would suggest that The Green Inferno ranks atop Roth’s directing resume. The New York University grad has come a long way since Cabin Fever and his maturity with the camera and characters on screen shows. The Green Inferno may never become a ‘horror classic’, but it certainly be one of the films everyone is talking about once it finally becomes available to the masses.