Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival 2013
Official Selection, Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014
“A relentless machine of gory fun... a wonderful work of nastiness” - Devin Faraci, BADASS DIGEST
Six years after HOSTEL PART II, Eli Roth has finally returned to directing. As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, it’s a cannibal movie, just like those lovable Italian rapscallions Ruggero Deodato and Umberto Lenzi used to make. Though Roth’s fingerprints are all over his addition to the indigestion-favouring genre, he plays true to the form both in terms of the graphic gourmet content and the themes of civility vs. civilization. It’s both throwback and something disturbingly new that is sure to be controversial for some, beloved by others, and impossible for anyone with a weak stomach or bleeding heart to forget.
The film follows a group of lightly satirical college kids (a Roth specialty at this point) who take a trip to the Amazon for good old-fashioned student activism. Their plan is to chain themselves to bulldozers to prevent a jungle from being demolished, and their good will is taken advantage of by their sleazy and morally corrupt leader Alejandro. Of course, any torment they suffer there feels like nothing once their plane crashes violently into the jungle and they’re kidnapped by the natives they arrived to protect. The movie then segues into the type of vicious cannibal flick you’ve either gagged at with friends or have been too scared to sample. Roth never goes so far as to stage actual animal mutilation like Deodato or Lenzi, but the way his fresh-faced college kids are turned into a main course certainly honours the pioneering gore of those Italian cannibal masters.
Roth never stretches too far into tastelessness, but is as unrelenting as his subgenre demands. Graphic dismemberment, live feasts, ocular attacks, bodies raised on spears through painful orifices, it’s all here. Backed up by the greats at KNB, all of Roth’s slaughter appears painfully real and makes startling impact. The bar for cannibal horror is high and Roth has no problem delivering the goods in a way that will leave viewers stumbling out of the theatre. Considering that an entire generation has yet to sample (or even hear about) the Italian cannibal oeuvre, this flick is going to sicken hardened horror fans — and that’s exactly how it should be.
— Phil Brown