I liked this a lot more than I thought I would, which is to say that I didn’t think it was terrible.
The story of a bunch of well-meaning college activists who travel to the Peruvian Amazon to stop loggers from bulldozing a native tribal village and then get eaten by those villagers is that makings of pure schlock, and that’s exactly what Eli Roth delivered.
There are some consistent issues that plague the movie a bit, though. The biggest problem is its structure and general disinterest in engaging with the few ideas it has, especially once you get into the second half. The other is that Roth doesn’t seem to be a particularly good director of actors. Especially in the first half, when everyone isn’t screaming endlessly, performances are universally stilted and awkward.
Still, there’s a deep cynical irony that permeates the film and actually drives it into comedy. The movie is usually categorized as a horror film, and I get the impression that Roth would disagree. The movie is definitely a comedy, even at its most gruesome. Roth hates every single one of his characters that he sends into hell. He finds the organizer to be pure scum (which everyone realizes he is). He finds the fat kid pathetic. He finds the vegan stupid. Even the main character is a naïf who should know better, so she probably kind of deserves what comes to her. Roth is kind of a sick bastard (as you might expect from a guy who films someone getting their eyeballs ripped from their sockets and then every limb hacked off followed by the head, which all precedes the body being smoked and eaten), so I don’t think it’s a large stretch to imagine that he simply took glee in conceiving the different ways for these people to die.
It seems like a weird movie to not hate, isn’t it? Well, I kinda liked it. Because there’s a clear delineation between fantasy and reality, it’s easy for me to watch horrific acts of violence in a film and potentially enjoy it. It’s really a question of tone, which Roth largely seems to hit here. I really believe that he was shooting for comedy (mean, brutish comedy, but comedy, nonetheless).
Definitely not for the squeamish.
Netflix Rating: 3/5
Quality Rating: 2.5/4