“The message he sends about armchair activism and the degradation of legitimate social causes in the service of greed and social branding is spot on,” Bloody Disgusting’s Evan Dickinson decided at a recent secret screening of Eli Roth’s “lighthearted cannibal film” The Green Inferno at the Stanley Film Festival in Colorado.
Roth’s latest is very to his signature torture-porn brand and is allegedly his goriest. A bunch of shallow, self-absorbed slacktivists head to the Peruvian jungle to “save” the indigenous tribes who have never before made contact with the outside world from corporate evils of deforestation and forced relocation. And then they get horribly eaten, but it’s cool, because they are vapid. Roth was inspired by the less-than-authentic elements within Occupy Wall Street, #SavePussyRiot and, particularly, the Kony 2012 campaign — “And you think of all these 100m YouTube views, and all these t-shirts sold and all those mugs. And then the guy’s jerking off in the street and Kony’s still out there, and it didn’t mean shit.”
To film this, Roth actually took the crew to the aforementioned Peruvian jungle and the indigenous tribes who have never before made contact with the outside world. Herzog style. Really.
“I wanted it to look like a Werner Herzog film. They call the river Aguirre because the last film to shoot there was Aguirre The Wrath of God,” Roth told IGN, referring to Herzog’s 1972 film shot on location in the Amazon with Klaus Kinski. “And we went even further beyond where they went. So it really looks like a Terence Malick film… We strapped cameras to remote control helicopters and ran them over the Amazon. The footage looks jaw-dropping. There have never been cameras where we were.” Roth says that he and the crew befriended the villagers, cast them all in the film, and put corrugated metal on all their roofs as thanks. “And then by the end they were all playing with iPhones and iPads. We’ve completely polluted the social system and fucked them up.”
But how did these villagers know how to act like cannibals? “I was told that we have to tell them what a movie is because they have no idea,” Roth explained. “They’ve never seen one. They’ve never even seen a television. So they went back with a television and a generator and showed the village Cannibal Holocaust, which I couldn’t believe. And the villagers – thank god – thought it was a comedy. The funniest thing that they’d ever seen. And they wanted to play cannibals in the movie. So we had the entire village acting in the film.”
Let that one sink in for a second. Roth made a film about slacktivists getting eaten by fictional cannibals based on actual isolated Peruvian tribes, starring the actual Peruvian tribes, who were first shown Cannibal Holocaust to explain what “acting” in a “cannibal” “movie” is. Because they aren’t cannibals. There are so many hues of morally ambiguous in this production. It’s a fucking rainbow. And it features Sky Ferreira. In theaters September 5th.