Matchup of the Day: The Green Inferno vs. Straw Dogs
Today we have a couple films where the protagonists aren’t given a warm welcome by the natives –The Green Inferno vs. Straw Dogs.
Both films involve characters who travel to an unfamiliar locale expecting something much different than what actually occurs. In Straw Dogs, David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman), a milquetoast mathematician, moves to a small English village with his wife, Amy (Susan George), who grew up there. He is looking forward to the peaceful environment the village offers as opposed to the social strife occurring in the United States (the movie was released in 1971). Though, when one of the locals asks David if he witnessed any of the turmoil he says “Only between commercials”. Amy has a bit of a history with one of the villagers, Charlie, who immediately makes advances toward her when he sees her. His friends are being paid to fix up the cottage where David and Amy will be living. They treat David with thinly veiled contempt. He doesn’t pick up on it.
The Green Inferno unfolds the plight of Justine, a college student looking for a cause to get behind. When she learns about the widespread practice of female genital mutilation she is stirred to action. Justine joins a campus activist group as a starting point, having little experience with activism of her own. The leader, Alejandro, is charismatic but calculating. Justine is taken in by his intensity and agrees to fly to Peru in order to prevent loggers from encroaching on a village of natives. The loggers are guarded by hired guns. The activists chain themselves to trees and broadcast the events via satellite from their cell phones. Justine is deliberately given a faulty lock by Alejandro’s girlfriend. The mercenaries grab her and nearly shoot her in the head, which heightens the drama. The protest goes viral. Justine, however, feels betrayed.
Charlie and his friends openly eyeball Amy, while dragging along with the cottage repairs. David is preoccupied with his work. Amy feels neglected. As time goes on, Charlie and his crew become more antagonistic. When David finds the cat hanging dead in the closet Amy tells him that she thinks Charlie’s friends are responsible. David is ineffectual in dealing with it. He even accepts their offer to go hunting, unaware that they just want to get him out of the house. While David clumsily tries to shoot birds Charlie sexually assaults Amy (a scene that was highly controversial). She doesn’t tell David about it, but she does call him a coward for not confronting them about the cat. David fires Charlie and his cohorts.
The plane the activists used to fly to the logging site ends up crashing on the way back. Many of them are killed outright. The survivors, including Justine, are captured by the natives they came to protect. They are put in a cage, aside from one member who is dismembered and eaten by the tribe. The rest of them try to figure out how to escape. Alejandro is entirely out for himself and doesn’t care what happens to the others. As their numbers dwindle, Justine finds out that she has been chosen as the victim of a genital mutilation ritual. She manages to escape when the tribe abruptly declares war on the loggers. They are massacred by the mercenaries. When Justine returns home she tells everyone that the tribe was kind to her and that she was the only survivor of the crash. Presumably, because she didn’t want her whole ordeal to be for nothing.
David and Amy go to a church gathering. The village flirt, Janice, who has a crush on David, attempts to talk to him. He’s concerned about Amy’s troubled behavior due to her being assaulted (which he still is unaware of) and pays little attention to Janice. Feeling rejected, Janice asks Henry, a local man known to have mental problems, out for a walk. He accidentally kills Janice in the heat of the moment after she kisses him. Henry runs out into the road and David hits him with his car. David takes Henry back to his house. When Janice turns up missing, her father, the town bully, and drunkard, automatically suspects Henry. He enlists the help of Charlie and his gang. They track Henry down at David’s cottage with intent to do him harm. David doesn’t know what Henry did and refuses to let them take him away. The situation deteriorates into lawlessness quickly, with the men besieging the cottage while David picks them off one by one. The film ends with bodies scattered throughout the cottage and David driving Henry home.
On a side note, according to Wikipedia, the locals who participated in the filming of Straw Dogs were offended when they found out about how controversial the subject matter was. They believed that it conflicted with their moral values. On the other hand, Eli Roth, director of Inferno, said that the natives who played extras were receptive to the experience. He even showed them the notoriously brutal Cannibal Holocaust in order to explain what a movie was. They thought it was funny.