According to deadline.com: A supernatural thriller set in South Carolina, South Of Hell focuses on Maria Abascal (Suvari), a stunning demon-hunter-for-hire whose power stems from within. ... See full summary »
The film's links to "Cannibal Holocaust" are numerous. In addition to being one of Eli Roth's favorite horror films and one that inspired his directing career, "The Green Inferno" was actually the working title that Ruggero Deodato used when he was making this movie; it was changed to something more bluntly descriptive and shocking (particularly with the use of the word "Holocaust"). See more »
Eli Roth is a director whose fame certainly goes before him. These days you don't really get many directors unashamedly dedicated to the horror genre like you did in years gone by. I like Eli Roth for this reason and I do find him a somewhat engaging, funny and entertaining guy. On the flip side I would have to say that I have found his output to be somewhat patchy and uneven. And frustratingly sparse at that. The Green Inferno is his first feature film as director since Hostel: Part II from way back in 2007! It's a long time to be out of the game. The question would have to be has he came back in a good way? Well, despite the undoubted promise of the central idea, it's a film that is kind of as frustrating as most of his other work.
The basic idea here is to bring back a type of movie that only really existed briefly over thirty years ago. The cannibal film was a particularly notorious sub-genre. Most of the films got banned here in the UK; some still remain so to this day in their uncut forms. Their combination of graphic violence, sexual assault and real animal killing made them real bad boys of the horror genre. Cannibal Holocaust (1980) is the one film that Roth has mentioned in particular as an influence and for this viewer it is easily one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. Its docudrama, found footage style mixed with a proper mean-spiritedness made it a pretty gruelling film but very well made. The Green Inferno takes a decidedly different approach to its material and it's not always a successful one. Where Holocaust was relentlessly confrontational, Roth's film is often quite jokey. This approach means that the tone overall fluctuates wildly but it definitely dissipates the overall threat posed by the cannibals. The choice of protagonists points to the change immediately in that it centres on a group of eco aware students who travel into the middle of the Amazonian rain-forest to stage a viral protest against some environment destroying workers, needless to say things take a bad turn and they wind up captive by a tribe of cannibals. The very fact that the film centres on a group of students makes this film surely the first cannibal film that doubles up as a teen movie! It's an awkward combination with a pretty ropey script and the main girl played by Lorenzo Izzo aside - unlikable characters. The social commentary is not so unexpected for this type of movie, as Cannibal Holocaust had that too but it is modernised considerably here the target is after all viral warriors who are more interested in being famous than for doing the right thing.
So how does it work simply as a horror movie? Well, it certainly has its fair share of gory violence. But it has less impact than it should because of the silly jokey tone that permeates it, even once the students have been captured. Because they aren't taking their situation seriously enough, it's hard for us in the audience to either unfortunately. The on-location photography certainly adds a fair bit it has to be said and the cannibals themselves are quite distinctive too, in particular the more prominent members of the tribe were somewhat creepy. I can't help feeling though that if Roth had reigned in the silly stuff and went full-on with this material with a more disciplined approach then it would have made for a far better film. It feels slightly like a missed opportunity and I am sad to say this as I was really on this one's side and had quite a bit of optimism for it.
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