Director Eli Roth returns to the director’s chair with this vile, abhorrent, incompetent, dumb, hateful cannibal torture film. College freshman Justine (Lorenza Izzo), whose father is a UN lawyer, decides to become an activist to help stop female genital mutilation in other countries. She joins the charismatic Alejandro (Ariel Levy) on a trip to the Amazon to demonstrate against big companies bulldozing the rainforest.
On the way back, their plane crashes and a group of survivors finds themselves captured by a strange tribe of cannibals. If they can hold on, they might be rescued, or they could try to escape. But infighting and an unexpected betrayal complicate matters, and none of them may ever get out of the jungle alive.
The movie goes wrong in so many ways, it’s hard to know where to start. First, there’s the atrocious acting, not helped by sub-par writing, and a collection of blatantly stolen movie cliches. The clumsy directing is either overly staged or consists of bad shaky-cam work. The gore is strong, but it’s freakshow stuff, with no specific purpose other than to shock.
The westerner’s view of different cultures (i.e., if it’s different it must be wrong, and/or scary) is insulting; this comes from Roth’s decades-old source material, the controversial Cannibal Holocaust (1980), whose original title was The Green Inferno. Finally, there’s Roth’s questionable treatment of his now-wife, star Lorenza Izzo, whose character is tortured, bloodied, and nearly drowned.
This is not a healthy movie. But it offers a strange conundrum; for someone capable of making something so wretched, Roth seems to have a lot of friends in Hollywood, and he continues to work with the same people again and again, so he must have some kind of magnetism that makes people like him (or at least forgive him). But for us mere movie-watchers, let’s hope that Roth can put less effort into tending to his fan club and start figuring out why he wants to make movies — and what he actually wants to say.