Directed By: Eli Roth
Written By: Eli Roth & Guillermo Amoedo
Cinematography By: Antonio Quercia
Editor: Ernesto Diaz Espinoza
Cast: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Magda Apanowicz, Daryl Sabara, Richard Burgi, Sky Ferreira, Aaron Burns, Nicolas Martinez
*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this review
A group of student activists travels to the Amazon to save the rain forest and soon discover that they are not alone, and that no good deed goes unpunished.
Completed in 2013, and pulled twice from release right before the premieres.
When it comes to the films of Eli Roth. When he is describing the films he is making it intending to make or made. He makes them sound like these excellent films that you can’t wait to see, but when you actually see them they never come close to the potential he was talking about leaving you continuously disappointed. His films are more hype then anything. He raises the bar and makes the film filled with anticipation and a direction where you think it is going. Yet always go in a different more common way that never reaches the heights it seems to promise.
This film tries to have some say in Eco-warriors, but does it more by generalization that seems to take it’s logic from a similar familiar plot from a SOUTH PARK episode that had Jennifer Aniston as a guest voice. That found the class stuck in the Amazon while trying to save it and study it. Then taken prisoner by a tribe and saved by the very workers they were petitioning.
Here we get an almost literal translation as most of the characters are one note and as they seem to perish we are supposed to not wish to see them offed, yet the film takes a particular glee it seems in their deaths. Trough only a few are made out to be villainous or unlikeable. Hose characters seemed to be spared somewhat a harsher fate. Where as the nicer decent characters get the worst of it.
Even the leading female character we are told more of her convictions to the cause then seeing them and then once she joins we are supposed to assume she is hardcore. Where as the film presents these characters as for the most part weekend warriors as far as saving the planet. They seem vapid and idealistic. So much so that the director treats them with disdain and like he is serving them up for slaughter like cows.
I could complain how lifeless and general the early scenes in New York feel. But the scene in the jungle feel the same way. Except in the jungle at least things are happening.
According to the film’s trailer, the Peruvian jungle natives who will appear in the movie have never been filmed or photographed by any Westerners before.
Now we are to understand that the tribe is cannibals and see them as enemies. Though they attacked and took them as captives first. So I am guessing everyone is an enemy who is not them. In previous cannibal films it seemed that while these tribes are savage. They are more innocent. Turned that way due to the infiltration of so called more humane explorers who either pervert or betray them and that is why the tribes turn on them and brutalize them. The craziness is inspired and passed though each. Here they are just presented as savages through and through. No levels or shading.
So while we are presented with all of this. The tribe, the land, the customs. That is never surprising nor is it presented in a wondrous or fantastical manner. So that at least it could be a vivid experience for us in the audience as it is for the captives. Instead it feels plotted and fat.
The film also seems to have a bunch of misplaced humor for no reason. Take the diarrhea scene. Which I thought with that character her being so upset about losing her purse. Would be that she is a heroin addict and would be tainted meat. So that when she became sick it would be out of withdrawal pretty much saving herself. Unknowingly, No instead it was all a set up for her to have diarrhea. There is also a scene towards the end that is a dream sequence that seems to only be there as a jump scare and makes no sense. It only seems to be there as this film has no real scares. It tries to have tension, but as it presents the tribes actions as matter of fact. That tension never rises.
For a film that seems devoted to trying to be an homage and a return to cannibal films of the past. The film feels surprisingly tame. Those films which I have seen a few in the past. Have on occasion disgusted me. As they always seem far-fetched but essentially effective because of their over the top disgusting gore. Which isn’t necessarily most audiences thing, Especially If it feels too realistic.
Though strangely when it comes to this film it is violent. Most of us have seen more violent films that aren’t even necessarily horror. So when that seems to be this genres bread and butter. As this film lacks that essential need what does it leave us with. Not much. The film could have been saved if there was some substance or had given is reason to care, but it doesn’t.
Even though Hostel 2 wasn’t the best in any way at least the film had some beautiful shots in it and stunning cinematography at times. So it had a intoxicating look. Here the film cousin have used that as it looks stale and plain. Though it has a beautiful backdrop of the jungles of Chile. Pretty much Undisturbed nature. He manages to do nothing with that natural beauty to make the film more mysterious and dangerous. So that they could have saved money and found a Forrest or woods in America and used them instead. If he wasn’t going to make the best use of them.
The films one spectacular scene is actually the plane crash that seems to doom the characters. That was done vividly, graphically and with enough meaning to understand it’s horrors and give the audience a little of what it wants. We know it is coming but still managed to happen unexpectedly and in an original way. Even the immediate aftermath scenes work. Up until they are put into the cages.
The films one subtle element is by making a certain character into a villain slowly and methodically. Especially when the ending comes. The only disappointment is that we don’t get to see the comeuppance if there is one.
I understand shooting in Chile seems to be the new motive for Roth, but it seems he is transgressing. As his films get bigger the film-making is less noteworthy. Where as at least in his early films there is promise. Now it seems like when it comes to his films different stories same delivery. He seems to either feel comfortable in his visuals and film-making that he seems to never make good on that early promise. Or maybe he feels what he films is good enough and once done with a scene or shot move on. Finish quickly instead of nurturing. They all seem very small for no reason and have unexplored territory. No sense of wonder. They feel like a bored American in a beautiful landscape.
Which makes his films seem less nuanced and made to fill more of a need. Then a story to tell. As it seems like a sexual encounter at times all promise, after the initial attraction. Making you think this is going to be special or at least one to remember and instead. It has nothing to do with you. You are just a random face a means to an end. As all the other person cares about is pleasing themselves. Being just good enough and then after patting themselves on the back and never really asking or caring about you pretty much the audience. As there was nothing like foreplay or caring asking it your needs or requests. Instead just going for it and at it. Satisfied more with itself.
When Eli Roth and his crew approached villagers to be extras in the film, he soon realized that they had never seen a movie and had no concept of what one was. To demonstrate what a movie was, Eli brought a TV and a copy of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and had a screening for everyone. The villagers loved it and gladly acted in the film. since they never saw a movie before, they thought it was a comedy.
Children from the tribe went up to Eli Roth and said that they had an idea for the film. He asked what it was and the kids pulled out a baby python. They thought it would be funny if it was in the cage with the actresses. Eli loved the idea, so he decided to go with it and have the kids dangle the snake in their faces. When they went to do it, the kids really got into it and it appeared the snake was being smacked in actresses’ faces. From what Eli was saying, it didn’t seem like the actresses knew how dangerous the snake was.
I enjoyed the film he wrote and produced AFTERSHOCK more than this film. In fact Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Ignacia Allamand, Nicolás Martínez, Matías López, and Ramón Llao all previously appeared in Aftershock, which starred and was co-written by Eli Roth. That film explored the evils of men. That was gratuitous at times for no reason, but at least felt like it had a point and filmmaking behind it.