Cannibal Holocaust is still considered to be both a very groundbreaking and controversial film, with its depiction of a film crew terrorizing primitive natives in South America, just to make an “interesting documentary” and getting brutally murdered by said natives as a result, with the observer character who found the footage of what happened to them and watches it, asking the question of who the “real cannibals” are, all while the footage that was found being filmed in a documentary style, making it seem like it actually happened and most people almost believed it did, causing the director Ruggero Deodato to prove in court that he didn’t kill the actors, though there were still acts of animal cruelty in the film. Without it, though, there wouldn’t be a found footage genre, meaning there wouldn’t be a Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, Chronicle, and others. A film with as much blood, gore, violence, and animal cruelty as possible, as well as somewhat hammered-in social commentary about the human condition, the savagery of human nature, and the comparisons/contrasts between those living in an advanced society and those who live in a primitive society. Makes sense for Eli Roth, director/writer of pretty gruesome horror films such as Hostel and others, to make a film that homages all that and other films similar to it with The Green Inferno, doesn’t it? And in the end, that’s kind of all it does, nothing more, especially considering the film was delayed for about a year because it lost its original distributor and got a new one, being released in the same year as another Eli Roth movie also staring his wife Lorenza Izzo, Knock Knock.
There’s nothing wrong with homage in and of itself. Lots of filmmakers and other kinds of storytellers pay homage to genres or specific stories in order to make their own.But when it’s just paying homage and nothing else, there’s also gotta be something more substantial, otherwise it just comes off as hollow and derivative. Doesn’t mean there can’t be anything good about it at the same time. I love horror films and I love Cannibal Holocaust, so it’s nice to see a film that doesn’t hold back on the grisly insanity and horror that comes with a film of that caliber, with plenty of dismemberment, ritual killings, decapitations, cannibalism, and pretty much anything else that would make those with a weak stomach vomit. And yes because it takes place in an exotic location, the Amazon rainforest, depicting natives that are deemed “primitive” due to how they look, talk, and live, and that they’re killing the characters in this film, there’s gonna be controversy, but that’s just something that goes with the territory of paying homage to Cannibal Holocaust, so it’s really just the natives reacting to their homeland being destroyed by loggers, only they’re taking it out on the wrong people, protesters who are against the loggers, that they’re holding captive.
And like some typical horror movies, the characters are pretty much, well, typical characters of typical horror movies. They’re so bland, cliched, and one-note that their names are not even worth remembering. Heck, their sole function is pretty much fitting the stereotypes of horror movie characters. There’s the lead female who starts out as naive yet strong and firm though also kinda dumb who’ll obviously survive the whole ordeal (played by Lorenza Izzo, Eli Roth’s wife), the weirdo roommate of the lead female that doesn’t go along for some reason other than the trip is obviously dangerous even though she’s annoying and you’d want to see her go and get killed, the charismatic hipster douchebag that got everyone into this mess and who the lead female has a crush on who may or may not die in the end (plus he masturbates to dead bodies, seriously), the douchebag’s bitchy girlfriend that dies, the nice fat guy that dies, the guy who the audience might recognize from movies done years ago that plays a stoner that dies, the nice strong guy that dies, and some other female characters that are either tough or soft that die. Honestly, there’s nothing to feel for these characters. They come off as stupid, mean, douchey, or hipster that it’s great to see what’s coming to them. Some are okay, but they either get killed or brutally tortured. Though maybe that’s the point, so in that case mission accomplished I guess? And the performances are okay given the material, especially by Lorenza Izzo, whose character at least tries to have some sense, but not much in the grand scheme of things. To further play on the social commentary, the movie ends with the lead female having survived (big shock) and saying to her UN lawyer dad and others that the tribe didn’t hurt her or anything, they helped her and should be left alone along with the forest. I get what’s being done, she’s trying to at least make some good out of the situation by doing what she set out to do, saving the forest and all that, but it’s just abrupt and really doesn’t matter because what else can be done other than do more Cannibal Holocaust homage and question who are the real savages and blah blah blah.
The Green Inferno is an okay movie, it’s got plenty of gore and violence and helps scratch that grisly horror-watching itch if you got one, I know I certainly do at times, and it could very well be Eli Roth’s most ambitious and successful horror film to date, but other than that there’s nothing really noteworthy about it. It strives to be controversial as the movies it’s paying tribute to, but as a result it kinda becomes a carbon-copy of it and can be a little boring in some areas. Oh and of course there’s a post-credits ending implying the douchebag survived and there’s rumors of a sequel happening, but considering that there’s nothing much reported since the initial announcement and given the record of sequels to other Eli Roth movies (even a remake of his first film Cabin Fever, the original made in 2002 and the remake in 2016, which he produced for some reason, and of course it sucked, because it’s stupid to do such a thing in the first place) and other horror sequels in general, it’s probably best there isn’t one, unless it’s something interesting, but I doubt that.