Green Hell (2014) – By Josh Samford

When first reading the title "Green Hell," I had only one thought: Cannibal Holocaust. The very popular Italian cannibal film once went under the title Green Inferno, which was also the title of a movie-within-that-movie, and it is also now used as the title for Eli Roth’s own Itallian Cannibal film homage. Indeed, the title reminds me heavily of Italian horror cinema, and while Green Hell itself has very little to do with the world of Ruggero Deodato and Umberto Lenzi, it does borrow elements from that era. It’s a movie that isn’t afraid to get in the audience’s face, it purposefully tries to disturb you, and you would have to classify this as shock cinema. However, the ways in which it hopes to disturb the audience proves to be very different from the old Italian masters.

The actual story for Green Hell is a bit hard to put into a cohesive structure, because the movie itself is rather ambiguous and experimental. The story ultimately follows a group of friends who regularly spend their days getting high and partying. When a bottle of green liquid enters into their life, they find that they’re experiencing a high unlike anything else they’ve ever experienced. Unfortunately, it comes with some drawbacks. The gang starts to experience vivid hallucinations that seem to point to a zombie invasion. As they try to ween themselves off this new drug, they find that it could have disastrous effects on everyone around them.

As that synopsis might lead you to suspect, the movie seems to be influenced a bit by Street Trash (1987). However, there are no exploding bums in this movie, just lots of vomit! Packing in a surprising amount of gore, sex, maggots, and body fluids, Green Hell doesn’t shy away from showing anything. If viewers are going to walk away with any single image burned into their mind, I am sure it will be from a "sex scene" that defies all description. Just imagine lots of blood, maggots, and cunnilingus. You get the picture.

The actual narrative for Green Hell is a bit muddy at times, but this comes as no surprise. Director Jay Crimson actually includes an introduction at the beginning of his film, announcing that all of the footage was originally shot over a couple of years and was done more for laughs than anything else. However, he manages to piece together a film, using a structure that resembles a lost VHS tape. There’s plenty of tracking lines and fast-forward and rewind breaks in order to help cement the concept. However, as a "found footage" project, the movie probably doesn’t work, as we never get the idea that anyone is supposed to be behind the camera. Still, the ugly and grainy video tends to help the movie keep a dark atmosphere that works from start to finish.

The use of music throughout the movie is very solid. I tend to find that punk rock music only works in cinema on rare occasions, but I find that Green Hell certainly makes it work. The movie comes across as a drug haze to the viewer, and the punk rock re-enforces this whenever it shows up, which is actually quite sparingly. With scenes strung together in a manner that defies logic, the movie most often bombards the viewer with unearthly soundscapes that perfectly encapsulate the atmosphere that the filmmakers were trying to capture.

While I know that all that I have said so far has been predominately positive, this is not a movie that will be for all audiences. It seems that the director knows this as well. He introduces his movie, stressing how the film was intended to be fun for the audience. I personally found that the introduction was a bit unnecessary. The movie is experimental, and it shows in the high octane editing. Sure, it features some less-than-stellar performances, and it probably isn’t the most logically written piece of work, but the cast and crew were going for something unusual – and they achieved their goal. This isn’t high art, but it’s weird enough to capture your attention. You can watch it for yourself via YouTube and DarkForestMedia.