Review: The Green Inferno

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

PLOT: When a group of student activist head to the Amazon to save the rain forest, their good intentions may kill them. After a few survive a horrific plane crash, those still alive are held in captivity by a tribe of cannibalistic headhunters. 

REVIEW: Eli Roth is back, and he has a tasty dish to serve. Inspired by such classic cult film’s as CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, THE GREEN INFERNO is a modern cautionary tale involving a peace organization getting in over their head. Much like the director’s previous efforts, he adds a very dark, and oftentimes crude, humor as well as a ton of gore. After all, this is a story about a tribe of cannibal headhunters in the Amazon. And yes, there are a number of bodies burned, bloodied and eaten alive, and it entertains in the idea of making a slight statement about well-meaning do-gooders who may not be doing much good. The question is, is this nasty business worth taking in for horror fans? And considering it has been quite awhile since we last saw Roth directing, I’d say yes, this will most assuredly please fans of the filmmaker.

Justine (Lorenza Izzo) is an impressionable college freshman who befriends an amiable student named Jonah (Aaron Burns). Jonah is involved with a group of student activist led by the charismatic Alejandro (Ariel Levy). After a terrible first impression with Alejandro, Justine finds herself even more drawn to him and his cause. The naive freshman is soon convinced to join the group and attempt to stop the destruction of the rain forest. While they partially succeed, things go horribly wrong for the group after their plane crashes and the remaining survivors are held captive by a tribe of people who see the students as a threat – and more importantly, as a meal. Oh yes, there will be blood, and guts, and gore.

To be honest, there was a little hesitation on my part before viewing THE GREEN INFERNO. It has been refreshing to see horror that doesn’t rely on gore, and there have been a number of terrific films that managed that quite well. Yet, it didn’t take long for me to warm up to Roth’s return. One of the things I’ve always appreciated about his work is the time he takes to get to the “good stuff.” There is a good half hour or so before Justine and her new found mates hop on a plane to an uncertain doom. We meet the players, and some of them we like and some we don’t. And while I didn’t find Alejandro nearly as charismatic as Justine did, her reasons for going made sense. From the very beginning there is dread as what’s to come, and it certainly pays off.

As gruesome as this gets – the effects are definitely terrifying – there is a really twisted sense of humor. This includes a masterbation and bathroom break scene – and don’t forget actor Daryl Sabara and his penis having a close encounter with a spider. Thankfully the ghoulishness never takes itself too seriously. And while the scenes of cannibalism are likely to make many an audience squeamish, it was actually far less brutal than I had imagined. The first major kill is the most intense – and perhaps if there is a director’s cut it will be even more disturbing. It is like riding a roller coaster that has a massive plunge, but once you deal with that you’ll be fine. Sure this is loaded in bloody bits, but it is just a step away from being difficult to watch. However, if you are not used to Roth’s gore fueled tendency, this may not do much for your appetite.

As Justine, Izzo is really quite good. The actress is very vulnerable when necessary, but what she must do throughout the film is fueled by her desperation to survive and it absolutely works. The lovely actress is easy to root for. The rest of the cast is mostly solid as well. Ariel Levy is better during the last half of the film when we learn more about him. And both Magda Apanowicz and Ignacia Allamand have a lovely connection. And for all you SPY KIDS fans, Sabara is a lot of fun here as Lars, a dude who loves his pot – which unfortunately comes to his disadvantage. And as one of the few young people who do not take the ill-fated journey, Sky Ferreira grew on me as Justine’s concerned roomie and friend.

The biggest surprise to me was how Roth dealt with the tribe – who according to the press release are a real life tribal community that had no idea what a movie was let alone ever been filmed. As scary as they are, Roth creates their day to day with a surprising sense of humanity. The children playing innocently with a deadly snake, and the women who are assigned to feed the village weren’t necessarily presented as monsters. All of this clearly was their way of life, and the intruders were simply people that have come to disturb the community they share. It is actually quite interesting to watch as you almost develop a sense of understanding for who they are, and what they are doing. Clearly that was Roth’s intention, and I found it to be a strong choice.

While I did appreciate the tension that led to the brutality, it did get a tad repetitive. It would have been tough to really make all the characters interesting and not just fodder, but that did lessen the impact. When a few unlucky folks are killed during the plane wreck, it was hard to really care all that much. Thankfully though, Izzo was worth investing in so that wasn’t too much of an issue. This is really her story, but it would have been far more effective with possibly a few less characters, or perhaps more time spent with some of them. Of course this is a horror movie, and the real star here is the gore, so who is getting savaged may not be a priority.

THE GREEN INFERNO is a bloody little flick that leaves you in suspense while waiting for the brutality to take place. If you are a fan of HOSTEL and CABIN FEVER, you will most likely enjoy Roth’s foray into cannibal terror. And while it has a ton of it, I did feel that it held back just a tad. My expectations were probably far more grotesque than what was actually on screen. It is nice to see Eli Roth making his brand of horror once again, and the way he shot the locales is very impressive. What a beautiful and haunting place this is. For sure there is a whole mess of gruesome goings on here, but it still has a bit of fun just to make it easier to take it all in. If you are looking for a well shot horror movie about a tribe of cannibals, Roth did a pretty damn good job with his directorial return.




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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.