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Article by Teddy Durgin

'The Green Inferno': Not much here to gnaw on

I love the movie-trailer and poster tagline for "The Green Inferno." I'm actually surprised it's never been used for a horror movie before. "No good deed goes... unpunished!" Well, dear readers, as long as Teddy's Takes is around, no bad movie will go unpunished either! Muhaha! OK, OK. I will start off by writing one really positive thing about "The Green Inferno." It's clear writer-director and all-around sick puppy Eli Roth made EXACTLY the film he wanted to make. Oh, sure, I'm certain the MPAA forced him to make at least a few cuts to the extremely graphic violence depicted in the film. But, for the most part, the dude set out to make a gruesomely gory cannibal movie about dumb, mostly white college kids trying to save the rainforests and indigenous peoples of South America. And he certainly succeeded! The problem with the film, though, is it doesn't really go for broke. Roth effectively plunges his audience into one of the most dire situations imaginable - seven young student activists are captured by cannibals and prepared for consumption. But then his film takes too many pauses, breaks and digressions. It fails to really and truly grip us. "The Green Inferno" needed to be relentless in the way the last 40 or so minutes of "Aliens" or nearly the entirety of Mel Gibson's brutal "Apocalypto" was. It needed to leave its audience absolutely breathless, feeling that they had just barely escaped unimaginable horror as the end credits rolled. But the stops and starts doom this film, and all we're left with is a freak show that is only sporadically effective. The film was shot on location in Chile, and Roth used a plethora of real natives to play his primitive cannibals in this movie. He also gets mostly decent performances from his young cast, especially lead Lorenza Izzo as Justine, the privileged daughter of a U.N. attorney. But there is something really crass and off-putting about an early college lecture on female genital mutilation and how Roth then ties it in later with not one, but two scenes of Justine and other young female characters being threatened with similar barbarity for real. There are also some odd character and story choices sprinkled throughout. For instance, the first 10 or 15 minutes of the film features the quirky, but endearing relationship between Justine and her cynical, strong-willed New York City roommate, Kaycee (Sky Ferreira). Kaycee puts down activism and do-gooders of all types and is set up beautifully as a counterpoint to Justine's wide-eyed idealism. But when it comes time for Justine to go to Peru with her college activist group, Kaycee wishes her good luck and then bows out of the rest of the picture. Unfortunately, none of the characters Justine then travels with have anywhere near the spunk and personality Kaycee showed in those precious few opening scenes where the viewer was led to believe she'd be a central player. With Roth at the helm, "The Green Inferno" is not really about character anyway. Instead, it's all about the cringe factor with this guy. That's what he's really interested in. Well, he accomplished his mission here. It's just too bad his film won't leave you with more to... ahem... digest.

"The Green Inferno" is rated R for aberrant violence and torture, grisly disturbing images, brief graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use.


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