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Justine isn't exactly the social activist type. When the pretty college freshman sees students on campus staging a hunger strike over one cause or another, she's more inclined to taunt them then join them. But then she spots the protest leader: a handsome rogue named Alejandro.
As her eyes glaze over and her heart starts to thump, Justine quickly decides that he is a good cause for which she could miss a meal or two.
What she doesn't realize yet is that Alejandro and his force of fist-waving friends have noticed her, too. Justine's dad, you see, is an important political figure with lots of foreign embassy contacts. If they could draw her into their next big project—protesting the abuse of indigenous Peruvian tribes by nefarious and uncaring lumber companies—why, she could lend them quite a lot of media clout.
So before you can scream "Justice for all!" on an empty stomach, Justine has been seduced into joining a trip to the Amazon and chaining herself to a deep-jungle logging bulldozer. How's that for a spring break?
But it works! The Internet-streamed and -tweeted brouhaha is deemed a success. And the college kids pack up for a jungle-jumper plane ride back to the nearest big city airport.
Their tiny plane never makes it there. After an engine blowout and a swirling nose dive of tumbling twentysomethings, vomit and blood, the students find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere. Now, usually that's just an expression for having to eat at Arby's instead of Chipotle. But this really is nowhere. They have no transportation. No means of communication. And no food.
The need for food, it turns out, is exactly why warriors from an indigenous tribe living deep in the bush near the crash site are now headed their way. And, yes, these are the very people on whose behalf the fresh-faced Americans had come to protest.
I suppose it would be unfair not to mention that some of the protestors are earnest in their desire to help the downtrodden—even if their actions are portrayed as rather foolish. And a few of the students are willing to risk everything to help their friends when they jump from frying pan to fire.
During a bathroom break in the jungle, the camera watches a spider crawl toward an exposed guy (showing his privates). Later, a girl is stripped naked and coated in grease and white paint. Some of the tribe's women are nearly naked, their most private parts strategically covered with small strips of fabric. All of the female students are ogled from several angles as they strip to bra and panties.
Two of the girls hug and kiss. One states that she has many revealing pictures on her phone of freshman girls she's seduced. Justine's roommate and her boyfriend are spotted in a tangle of bed covers. Justine calls this friend "100% whore." A guy masturbates beneath the cover of his jumpsuit. Just out of the frame, a trio of girls are manually violated by a female tribe leader.
You've figured out by now that this flick is a carnage-meets-cannibalism smorgasbord, with infamous horror director Eli Roth serving up course after course of repulsiveness.
In just one of the many killings a man is literally cut apart (defined quite literally here as butchered) while he writhes and screams. His eyes are plucked out and eaten, his tongue sliced off, his limbs hacked off. His torment finally ends when his head is lopped off and his torso is drained of its remaining fluids. The resulting chunks of meat are seasoned, cooked, carved and served as if he were a Thanksgiving turkey. The tribe lustily devours him.
Flesh is stripped off a young woman's ribcage and eaten as finger food. A girl's tattoos are cut off and played with by the tribe's children. A man is tied up and dangled like a piñata, each of his bones broken with a club; he's consumed by a swarm of large ants. After getting high on the fumes of potent marijuana, the tribe literally eats a man alive. (And not even in this gruesome plot point does the camera retreat.) A woman gets a spear thrown into her throat and another into her forehead. Corpses and moldering body parts are suspended on large pikes. One girl slices her own throat, blood obscenely spurting.
People are sucked, screaming, out of a crashing plane. Some are slashed with flying metal. One man's head is viciously gashed by a whirling propeller blade. Another has his face crushed inward by a tree branch. A logging truck is destroyed with explosives. A field is littered with corpses as mercenaries gun down tribespeople. There are lengthy and graphic discussions of female genital mutilation, something we almost see happen at one point.
I will stop now. I should have stopped 200 words ago. But this movie shows no such mercy.
Crude or Profane Language
More than 30 f-words. A half-dozen s-words. Also one or two uses of "b--ch." And God's name is misused.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Celebrating students drink beer in their plane. Justine drinks wine with her dad at lunch. A guy gets a small bag of weed and smokes a joint. He then stuffs the remaining marijuana into the corpse of a dead friend in hopes of affecting the tribesmen when they cook her. Several people have a powdered drug blown into their faces, knocking them unconscious.
Other Negative Elements
We find out that certain leaders of the social activist movement are self-serving and duplicitous, using the others for personal gain. A girl has explosive diarrhea that village children laugh over. Justine's roommate crudely references "white suburban Jewish guilt."
U.S. student activists fly to the Amazon to protest exploitation of the rainforest, and are eaten by the very native tribes that they hope to protect.
With a logline like that, and a title like The Green Inferno, American moviegoers might expect this film to be a high-minded political and environmental allegory about the abuse of nature resulting in the natural taking revenge. Or maybe a cautionary tale skewering over-privileged naiveté.
But link Eli Roth's name to the project and you get something else entirely. Namely, a rancid freak show of cinematic sadism. Roth may say that the whole thing is "a metaphor for how people are shamelessly consumed by their vanity and need for validation on social media." But, in reality, he's just overeager to once again pull out his barf bag full of gore and dangle fans over another pot roiling with the torture-porn of disemboweled bodies and lopped-off limbs.
A postscript: Business Insider reports that The Green Inferno isn't making very many friends with those who in real life are truly concerned with helping and/or protecting remote, indigenous people groups. When the magazine asked Rebecca Spooner, a campaign director for Survival International, what she thought after seeing just the trailer for this film, she replied, "We were obviously disturbed by it. Effectively, it seemed to be depicting us.”
But the fact that social activists are made to look like vain and foolish "slactivists" isn't her main worry. “It’s very dangerous,” she says, to indiscriminately raise the specter of cannibalism when depicting tribespeople. "[Such perceptions have often] been used an excuse to wipe them out. [Historically] these stories have created a racist view of uncontacted and isolated groups."
Good media discernment is about guarding our eyes and hearts before we watch or listen. And it's also about grappling with the entertainment we do see or hear. That's why the Plugged In Blog is devoted to guarding, discussing and grappling.
Protecting our families today is more vital than ever. And by partnering with ClearPlay and Net Nanny, Focus on the Family hopes to point you to resources and tools that can help you navigate the entertainment world around you.