Do you REALLY understand your intentions?
By no means is Eli Roth’s latest flick The Green Inferno meant to be an anti-activist tome. Yes, my title for this review suggests that. Yes, the movie is about a group of young college students on a trek to the Peruvian jungle in an effort to make a pointless scene. Yes, Eli is known for killing off the young, the obnoxious AND the naive in his films — in most gruesome ways, too. But…
… no, Green Inferno is not saying that activism is stupid. It’s saying that young people get easily suckered into things without thinking. It’s saying that cultural luxuries are often taken for granted and deeply ingrained. It’s saying that, maybe, all should be questioned. Even those with the megaphones.
The Green New Deal
Post Occupy Wall Street, filmmakers have been trying to express what this attempt at a movement not only means for America, but what it says about this generation of youth. Garrett Bradley and Joel Potrykus have successfully done this through their works Below Dreams and Buzzard respectively. In those movies, the argument was made that we’re either fighting for nothing or because we’re confused. Without clear focus, our aimless selves dive into one of two areas; self absorbed sociopathic apathy or poorly calculated tries at self preservation. This could, very well, be the ultimate end game of heavy advertising propaganda and soulless rollbacks of political reform, but whatevs. What’s the point of having live streaming capabilities if you don’t know what to capture and how to capture it? We lost before we were born.
Where Eli Roth differs from other cinematic observers is in his solution oriented mindset. Green Inferno actually offers some fairly positive cures to our ills in this always connected / always apart age. Cures that can also be applied to kids looking and hungering for change. The most subtle of which is to try and understand each other. To listen. Really listen. Put away that damn phone and pick up a book once in a while. Of course, eating these people might be seen as one culture’s answer, but the cannibalism at play is more comeuppance for lack of knowledge, lack of understanding and misconstrued relations. It’s not the gore that’ll scare ya; it’s the why behind the meal.
There’s also a sinister sense of humor to the peril Roth puts the students in. Cutting from looks of terror to whimsically laughing villagers tells an interesting story. Sure, they’re headhunters, but this is routine to them. Day to day living. After witnessing a friend being cut up and cooked, a caged protester has to violently go to the bathroom, to the disdain and smug disgust of everyone else. Even in the midst of unspeakable tragedy, they find the time to be offended at the lack of bathroom facilities. Savages.
College campus hucksters turned ideological saviors are not necessarily to be followed. Didn’t The Beatles say to “free your mind instead”? Early in the movie, two female roommates are learned about horrific and barbaric rituals in a classroom. Afterwards, they are invited to a protest meeting, where things only go downhill. Seduced by new to their ears information that fuels anger and what they think is empathy, this horde of spoiled and righteous Americans head off to parts nearly unknown. And for what?
“Don’t think, just act” a protest member says when recruiting others. THIS is the main commentary of the movie. Remember Loose Change? That 9/11 conspiracy desktop “documentary”? It spread like wild fire across my college, and even hooked me a tad with its audaciousness. I WANTED so badly to act, like buy a bumper sticker or something. See? Moral thoughtlessness grabbed at the throat by others who got their first, turning schools into laboratories that churn out monster after monster who think a trending hashtag is a big victory. It’s about as sickening as eating a human alive. It’s about as scary as a foreign culture. It’s about as sad as the destruction of trees and villages by heartless corporations and governments.
Director Eli Roth has opened up the know it all-sters of this country to the most primal of instincts and actions, giving them an education more risky and dangerous than the loan debt that’s commonly associated. Ultimately, it’s up to them to learn, but if only one individual is reached, I’d consider that to be worth the price of admission.
Rating — *****
Scarier than gore and more unnerving than genital mutilation is the fear that, deep down, we don’t really know what we’re doing or even understand why we’re doing it. Hopefully, we live long enough to figure it out.