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Eduardo Moreno/Open Road Films

The Green Inferno (2014)

Eli Roth's latest think piece on international relations is a gleefully nasty culture clash between youthful Western arrogance and a simple tribal lifestyle, somewhere down a crazy river. In "The Green Inferno" a group of handsome white-bread students — naive dim bulbs to a man and led by an out-and-out creep — set about protesting against rain-forest deforestation in the Amazon, and end up on the receiving end of a cannibal holocaust. At first it's all high-fives and banter and chaining themselves to bulldozers; but then later there's running and screaming and explosive diarrhea.

Compared with the two "Hostel" films, where you could argue that the director had some serious issues in mind — at least until words failed you — "The Green Inferno" is Mr. Roth in boozy rabble-rousing mode, laying the genre references and gross-out splatter effects on thick. He's also very clearly having a laugh; the dialogue is made of pure plywood, while student dorm life is signified by a "Betty Blue" poster, a piece of shorthand not used by anyone with a straight face in 25 years. Mr. Roth has cheekily name-checked Werner Herzog, but the best comparison is probably Robert Rodriguez after a night on the strong cheese.

In the circumstances, the film's treatment of an authentic Peruvian tribe as a nightmare Other wrecking revenge on Western interlopers is too broad to cause much offense — especially since those natives are still more fully rounded characters than the visitors, whose leader's sexual hang-ups match his ethical ones. Mr. Roth helpfully includes the Twitter usernames of the cast in the credits, a fair sign that "The Green Inferno" has no aim in mind beyond the simple pleasures of watching good-looking young actors try to change the world and end up hacked into small portions, baked in large pots.


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