SITGES – When it comes to genre, he is el hombre. Proceedings at this weekend’s Sitges Fantastic Fest, an event that boasts one of the biggest concentrations of black T-shirts in the history of mankind, bore that out.
At Friday’s opening gala, when Sitges director Angel Sala announced its international guests this year, there’s was no louder cheer from the fanboy hardcore than for Eli Roth.
Saturday’s packed press screening for the Roth-directed Amazon cannibal movie “The Green Inferno” saw scrimmages for the best big aisle seats.
A horror-come adventure movie about a gaggle of student activists captured after a plane crash by the very village of native indians they were trying to save, the cannibal thriller largely slipped down a treat.
“Green Inferno” was “received with jubilation by the Sitges crowd, always avid for strong emotions,” said El Periodico, the biggest newspaper based out of Barcelona, just half an hour’s drive up the Mediterranean coast.
“The Green Inferno” delighted yesterday at Sitges, with applause for the first deaths, which fell silent during the most brutal scene in the cannibal banquet.”
“You liked ‘Cabin Fever’ and ‘Hostal’? Then Roth’s cannibals are really close to conquering your heart,” wrote Aullidos, Spain’s Twitch.
“Because the now not so-young-lad repeats structures, forms and above all, and thank God, the natural bile of his cinema,” Aullidos added.
“It might not be great nor legendary filmmaking, but the film knows very well that’s it’s targeting you, dear spectator, who is burning with desire to see how these hipster activists suffer right through to the end.”
All this despite – or because of – the fact that “Green Inferno” marks the first time Roth has climbed back in the director’s saddle in seven years.
He’s hardly been out of the genre game, however. At Sitges, Roth, Chilean “Green Inferno” producer Nicolas Lopez at Sobras Intl. Pics, movie star Lorenza Izzo and composer Manuel Riveiro reprised some of their explanations at Toronto, where “Green Inferno,” also produced and financed by Christopher Woodrow’s Worldview Entertainment, world premiered last month.
One is “The Green Inferno’s” critique of what Roth has called “slacktivism.”
“In America there’s a lazy form of activism where people want to do the right thing but they don’t want to inconvenience their own lives,” Roth told the Spanish press. “It’s so much easier to just hit the re-tweet button on your phone and say you’re a good person instead of stopping your life for a particular cause,” he added.
What came through loud and clear at “Green Inferno’s” press conference was Roth’s delight at being, as he put it, “the only gringo” presenting the movie.
The idea hatched by Roth and Lopez a couple of years back of creating Chilewood, an “alternative filmmaking model,” as Lopez puts it, which prioritizes far lower-budget production, giving audiences something new, movie ownership for producers, and freedom to put movies into production looks live and well.
“I’m the only gringo here,” Roth said at “The Green Inferno” press conference.
“It’s a pleasure to watch this movie with a European and Spanish audience. I have to thank Nicolas Lopez. You know him for his comedies.We wrote the script together with Guilermo Amoedo, took Nicolas’ entire production team to Peru, cast Lorenza Izzo in ‘Aftershock’ and “’The Green Inferno.’”
“My idea is to bring out new talent, create new stars, and show Nicolas’ incredible talent as a producer. We can make movies in Chile with new faces for theatrical audiences worldwide.”
Just how broad those audiences could now be is another question.
“The Green Inferno” is hardly torture porn for the family. The first big dismemberment set piece, practiced on a victim who is still alive and kicking, is particularly memorable.
After that, however, the movie becomes far more of a adventure thriller as the surviving activists desperately attempt to escape.
The danger of course would be for Roth’s movies, as they move more mainstream, to lose all their hallmark excruciating death-scenes or his audience-friendly critique of people who, however politically incorrect it may be to say it, rather like the insects on the set of “The Green Inferno,” sure as hell get under many people’s skin.