After taking a six year break from directing feature films, Eli Roth returns with The Green Inferno, his modern take on Italian cannibal films from the 70’s and 80’s. Blending “aberrant” violence and gore with humor and character development, Roth subjects audiences to a gruesome tale of American college students that encounter an Amazonian tribe with a taste for human flesh.

Even if you haven’t seen an Italian cannibal film before, you’ve likely heard stories of them being banned in dozens of countries around the world. Films like Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox (which definitely served as an inspiration for The Green Inferno) are known for their excessive violence, gore, killing of animals, and social commentary. These movies have a dedicated fanbase, but even they can admit that many of these cannibal movies lack extensive character or story development.

What Eli Roth has done here is paid homage to these movies without making a carbon copy and that’s for the best. Character development is a priority and we get a solid amount of time with these students before anything terrible happens to them. It really impressed me how well Eli Roth was able to mix everything into The Green Inferno without making it feel like a parody. There are insanely gory scenes depicted here, but also moments in between that had the audience laughing out loud. It’s a tough balancing act that many filmmakers would not have been able to handle.

The main cast is a mix of new actors and familiar faces. The situations may not be too dissimilar to what we’ve seen from campers in the Friday the 13th films, but the beautiful setting and interaction between the actors really makes their predicament feel more real. It’s really interesting to watch how everyone reacts differently under the pressure of being the next meal. Of course, we can’t talk about the cast without mentioning the natives. For those who are unaware, Eli Roth worked with natives from a remote village on the Amazon river that had never seen a movie before. They were shown Cannibal Holocaust, loved it, and agreed to take part in the movie. The makeup and costume work for the natives looked fantastic and it seems like they were all game for anything Eli Roth could come up with.

In many cases, the older cannibal movies were released unrated or had major segments edited in order to be sold or screened. While the movie has some very gory scenes, make sure that you go in with the right expectations, because The Green Inferno isn’t a never-ending gore fest. There's quite a bit of setup time before things get crazy and the ending doesn't pack as much of a punch as the middle of the film when it comes to scenes of cannibalism. With that being said, the movie has what is easily one of the most gruesome and memorable death scenes that I’ve seen in a long time. Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger, and their teams did a excellent job with the makeup effects here and it’s going to be hard for the casual moviegoer to make it through this movie without turning away at least once.

Eli Roth’s return to feature films with The Green Inferno will be worth the wait for many and is among my favorite films that he’s been involved with. Horror fans, especially those who are fans of the Italian cannibal films, are in for a real treat here. We’re given an updated version with some great scenes and memorable characters, and this will introduce a whole new generation of horror fans to the cannibal sub-genre. This movie will no doubt inspire new cannibal films, and a sequel is already in the works, so get ready for more trips to the Amazon and new ways of seeing unsuspecting travelers eaten alive.

Film Score: 4/5