The Green Disappointment

Written by Michael Schutz

I've been waiting for Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno for nearly two years--from the time I first heard rumors that the great Eli Roth was reinventing Cannibal Holocaust, through last year's cancellation of its September release, to yesterday, when I finally walked to the cinema to see this sure-to-be gore-drenched, gut-wrenching, disgusting, disturbing, absolutely terrific film!

But it was none of those things.

What I always forget about Eli Roth is that he takes half the movie to get going. I forgive him the tedious set-ups, because when the Hostels or Cabin Fever got going, they were great. Each one more over-the-top than the last. Images of Hostel II still haunt my waking dreams. But once again, fully half the movie is banal characters (lesser known actors are fine, I don't need star-studded movies to keep my interest, but this cast was terrible--except for Daryl Sabara, who managed terror, disgust, pathos, and humor in his small role.) Honestly, I would have loved Sarah Hyland (Haley from Modern Family) as Justine. Our preconceptions of her from that show would have established her character, and shattered our expectations later in the movie. But there wasn't much for anyone to work with, as they recited some of the worst dialog I've heard in years.

I have no problem with movies that take a while to develop. But make it count. These one-dimensional characters barely kept my interest. With two writers besides Roth working on the screenplay, someone should have been able to write a beginning filled with tension and a terrible sense of dread to propel us through the first half.

All of this would have been forgiven if the carnage at the cannibal village had blown my mind. But it didn't. I've watched interviews with Eli Roth. I know the sick shit that's in his head. He's a master level gore hound. He's warped to a degree that if he wasn't in the arts, he'd need hospitalization. I am his target audience. I want to be sickened. I needed to want to tear my eyes out so I can no longer see the sick, twisted shit inflicted on these poor student activists. I would love for Roth to say "fuck it" and go for an NC-17 rating on a movie full of so much filth and viscera that the movie is banned, not shelved because of a distribution problem.

The Green Inferno is a watered down, pallid, droll disappointment. I'd expect this kind of misfire from most anyone else, but when Eli Roth is so capable of producing jaw-dropping gore-horror, I am left shaking my head in lack of disgust.