For his new horror film The Green Inferno, Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever) took a cast and production crew to the remotest Peruvian rain forest.
Writer and director Roth and actor Lorenza Izzo spoke to Jonathan Melville at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where the film got its UK premiere.
“The Green Inferno is a film about a bunch of students from New York City that are real activist types, they want to do the right thing, they’re into Twitter and hashtagging and re-tweeting,” says Roth. “And they go to the Amazon to save a dying tribe. They’re about to be contacted, so those people are going to rip up their village and take the minerals underneath, so they chain themselves to trees, they protest, and it actually works, it shuts it down, and then on the way home their plane crashes, and the very people they save basically dart them, and take them hostage, and just see them as invaders. And they become the life supply of the village.”
The Green Inferno was filmed in a part of the Amazon jungle that was “farther than anyone had ever filmed anything” according to Roth, but it was for this very reason, the isolation and danger of the environment, that they chose the location.
“The whole film was an incredible experience,” Roth says. “What I wanted to do was… a lot of films are very special effects-driven, they’re done in studios, or green screens… I wanted a movie that looked and felt dangerous. It really was, we really took people into the Amazon, and when you see Lorenza in the river, we really put her in the river, she really almost drowned! And every day I was thinking, ‘please, nobody die, nobody die!'”
Despite the challenges, Izzo maintains that it was a great experience:
“As an actor it was heaven. My first language is Spanish and they all spoke Spanish. So I was able to really talk to them and understand who they were, and really what they thought of this. So for them this was so absurd, they were like, ‘you get to pretend to be someone else and that’s what you do for a living’, and I was like, ‘yeah, it’s pretty fun right?’
“We had so much fun, we really had a strong connection with them,” she adds. “To be in that natural environment as an actor, you couldn’t ask for more.”
For Roth, The Green Inferno works because the audience are aware of the risks and danger involved in its making.
“I wanted the audience to have that exciting, heart-pounding… that roller-coaster where they go, ‘oh my God, I can’t believe what I’ve just seen!’ But the reason it works is because you know the people that made it were completely insane. I think that’s what makes horror movies at their best, when you feel like you’re in the hands of an unstable narrator.”
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