I have been waiting for this film to come out since I first heard that it rocked the Toronto International Film Fest back in September 2013. I knew that Eli Roth’s first foray into the cannibal subgenre was destined to be a classic. After all, this is coming from the man that brought us the fantastic throwback, Cabin Fever, and ultra-gruesome Hostel franchise. Plus, this would be his first full-length directorial output in eight years and it seemed to be timely as the plot of the film revolves around social justice warriors that are involved in a plane crash that puts their fate in the hands of a cannibal tribe in the Peruvian amazon. That said, as the house lights dimmed, I was eagerly anticipating a film that was certain to be on my top five for a year that has been relatively light in theatrical releases.
Boy was I wrong.
So what was bad about it? Well, the first twenty minutes of the film look extremely cheap and the characters are very two dimensional. Everyone seems to speak in cliches and look like walking stereotypes. There are no scary moments in the film, the tone of the film is all over the place, the protagonist’s actions are not consistent, there is a very unnecessary potty-humor (?) scene, and the ending is one of the most frustrating things that I have ever seen. They line it up to be a possible franchise, but this is not franchise material, nor is it as memorable as Cannibal Holocaust.
Roth even fails to make a valid social commentary regarding the social justice warriors. He neither indicts nor affirms them in any way but instead, opts to just use the modern activists as a means to get a group of warm bodies in front of a cannibalistic tribe. It was as if the someone involved was afraid to make an unpopular stand in the current political climate, where every strong statement and political stance is met with someone being offended.
But that’s not to say that the entire film is bad. There are some legitimately funny moments, one extremely uncomfortable moment that evoked pure revulsion, and some very graphic gore on display, but it all just seems like such a waste of Eli Roth’s potential. This is a film that makes some bold claims but never fully delivers on anything other than the gore. I neither loved this film nor did I hate it. I felt like it was just another forgettable film that was overshadowed by hype and anticipation.
All in all, in this age of hashtag SJW activism, I recommend that you #SaveYourMoneyAndRentItInstead.