Blu-ray Review: The Green Inferno

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Director Eli Roth's The Green Inferno is a confused mess of a "horror" film that makes his other 2015 release, the far less-publicized infidelity thriller Knock Knock, look like a classic. Both films are poor in their own way, but at least Knock Knock doesn't exploit an actual indigenous Peruvian tribe while reinforcing grotesque racial stereotypes. The Green Inferno is an unwelcome throwback to a bygone era in which any "primitive" people of color were freely depicted as lawless savages. Roth has slapped together a bunch of poorly thought-out, painfully mixed messages and made the whole thing even queasier by adding some of the goofiest comedic elements imaginable. Yes, there are a few scenes of extreme gore (not nearly as much as you might've heard), but that's pretty harmless compared to the glaring cultural insensitivity.

A group of college students led by Alejandro (Ariel Levy) travels to a Peruvian rainforest to protest a company whose clear-cutting will displace indigenous tribes. This entire first act, during which we meet newly idealistic Justine (Lorenza Izzo) and her Devil-may-care college roomie Kaycee (Sky Ferreira), is like something out of a different movie. There's no hint of the cannibalistic jungle horrors to come, just a half-hearted send-up of empty-headed college do-gooders who naively venture into a very strange land. Justine's dad happens to work for the United Nations and Alejandro views this as his ace in the hole for when the group is confronted by the bulldozers. Live-streaming the entire scene over the internet, via smart phones, they'll leave it up to the logging crew whether or not to kill Justine and create an international incident.

Anyway, none of this really matters a hill of beans because once a plane crash leaves Justine, Alejandro, and their partners in protest stranded deep in the jungle, it's all about the nasty cannibals who imprison them. Roth apparently utilized a real tribe, one with no prior knowledge of movies, as his cast of savage villains. These people, mostly painted red (some of the members, apparently those in a leadership position, are painted black and/or yellow), literally carve up and eat some of the protesters raw. The very people whose lives the protesters intended to protect are now the ones torturing, mutilating, and consuming them.

No need to belabored the points mentioned in the first paragraph. Though slickly made, The Green Inferno is a distressingly out-of-step reminder of a bygone era when it was acceptable to exploit "natives" and make them look like monsters who live without any code of ethics whatsoever (and, in this case, using people who very likely weren't 100% sure what they were getting mixed up in).

Universal's Blu-ray is a beauty, at least, with the lush greens of the rainforest and vividly colorful body paint of its inhabitants looking excellent in high definition. The audio is served up in a DTS-HD MA 5.1. Given the usual standards of the horror genre, this is a somewhat atypically sedate mix. It sounds great, but don't expect many out-of-the-blue surprises from the surround channels.

Not many extras are here, just an audio commentary track (featuring director Roth with rroducer Nicolás López, and actors Lorenza Izzo, Aaron Burns, Kirby Bliss Blanton, and Daryl Sabara) and an extensive still photo gallery.

Green Inferno (260x380).jpg

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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