I was really looking forward to this film. After all, cannibals have always been one of those antagonists in film that have always given me the chills, and Eli Roth has a solid horror pedigree what with Hostel, Cabin Fever and Grindhouse in his movie-making history, inspired by classics such as ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ – this should have been a slam dunk.
So what went so terribly wrong?
It may be easier to start with what was right – shot on location in the amazon the green inferno itself is a lush albeit brutal backdrop, the plane crash scene was well done, a few of the characters weren’t completely obnoxious (particularly the lesbian couple), it drew attention to the abomination that is female genital mutilation, and the ‘natives’ looked…well, native.
That’s really all I can praise.
The story details the misadventures of a team of eco-warriors headed by the elusive Alejandro and their plans to fly to the amazon, chain themselves to bulldozers to prevent the inevitable march of ‘progress’ from destroying the forest and the natives that have made their homes there. They plan to live stream from their mobiles and feel this is all the protection they need. Now I’m just gunna stop there to examine how deeply stupid this is – 1. people have been beheaded on camera before, so film really stops nothing, 2. a mobile phone is not a remote beacon but a feeble communications device that can be combated with one quick destructive hand or boot, 3. They are now identifiable on camera blowing up property that doesn’t belong to them and taunting mercenaries – good work!
After a marginally successful protest our team, along with lead final girl – Justine (Lorenza Izzo) decide to light plane it back to Peruvian hospitality and safety before a crash drops them into the clutches of marauding cannibalistic natives.
There is so much wrong its difficult to know where to start but here go – spoilers ahead: It’s a full 20 minutes of blah blah blah before they even get to the amazon.
the tone flip flops between supposed horror and comedy which absolutely does not work in this genre so the horrors are neutered before they even make an appearance.
The death scenes feel muted as though what is happening is not really felt by the victims – when the first guy is facially mutilated before being dismembered his face is never seen clearly and its as if his screams have been muffled, his movements sluggish – I’ve had a more elaborate response to stubbing my toe!
Again the first death – you have just entered a village of people carrying machete-type weapons surrounded by heads on sticks, when the villagers start to lay you down on an alter, would you just lay there as if “ooh a nap!” for godsakes how stupid are these characters!? The whole scene is shot so close to the ‘action’ its hard to tell what part of him is being cut sometimes which also undermines any power the scene may have managed to generate.
The ‘comedy’ includes a diarrhea scene complete with comic fart sounds, a ‘stoned villagers’ scene that is completely ridiculous and not believable, and a masturbation scene that is so inappropriate its hard to accept Roth actually put it on film.
The questions throughout this film drove me crazy – If the villagers are cannibals then why are they torturing the students instead of just putting them in a pen and eating them when its dinner-time? Why impale some victims and leave them to rot? Why would they rip apart one victim as if they are zombies when we’ve already established that they cook and eat their food? Why would they think to do genital mutilation to one student if she is to be killed and eaten? If their protest really did ‘go viral’ then surely people would be following up what happened to them? Why would the cannibals induce death by ants for one victim rather than just kill and eat him? and what’s with that totally ridiculous ending??? And then the additional during-credit coda that was even worse?
This movie made me mad – it was a wasted opportunity, badly acted, scripted and filmed by people who should’ve done better by the fans that were eagerly awaiting this for years.
Poor form Eli Roth – I shall tread carefully around your films from now on.
And for the love of horror – don’t make the sequel!