NOVEMBER 23, 2007
Earlier this year (or maybe late last year), there was some brouhaha over the nature of Welcome To The Jungle, with some folks reporting it was a remake of Ruggero Deodato's masterpiece Cannibal Holocaust, and Welcome writer/director Jonathan Hensleigh (a man who will forever be in my OK book due to his myriad Bruckheimer contributions, including my beloved Armageddon) claiming his film nothing to do with that film. Well, now that I’ve seen it, they’re both right.
On one hand, yeah, it’s incredibly similar to Holocaust. Some folks making a documentary run afoul of cannibals; the film being their found footage (something that actually only made up the 2nd half of Deodato’s film, but whatever). On the other hand, it’s absolutely nothing like that film, because in that one, SOMETHING ACTUALLY FUCKING HAPPENED.
In what is becoming the standard for Dimension EXTREME releases, the film is barely R rated, and would take minimal editing to secure a PG-13 (also see, or don’t: Buried Alive). Now, for that movie, that’s fine, because who cares about the 10 millionth teens in an old cabin movie. But when you are making a goddamn cannibal movie that is rumored to be a remake of one of the most graphic and intense films of all time (at least, of those that are somewhat well-known), you should at least deliver SOMETHING.
But no. In 80 minutes, the sum total of onscreen violence is about 12 seconds. There’s also some assorted gore (via body parts – these cannibals don’t seem to have a problem with wasting a lot of their food), but nothing particularly interesting or different. And yes, there’s an homage to CH’s most memorable image, that of a woman who is impaled thru her ass and out of her mouth, except here it’s through the back of her head. Top the original? It doesn’t even try. I just don’t see the sense in making this type of movie, knowing that it would likely not be a 2,000 screen big studio release, and not at least go all out for the finale. Gale Anne Hurd produced this movie for Christ’s sake, it’s not like they didn’t have any money for some decent makeup gags.
Plus, the cameraperson, who is a friend of the deceased, for some reason films the wounds in perfect close up. Some folks had a problem with the “too good” camerawork in Diary of the Dead; those folks would be utterly disgraced by the footage here. At one point, the characters seemingly cut back and forth (with one camera) to film both sides of their benign conversation!!!
So the film doesn’t deliver on the cannibalism, gore, or violence. Does it at least entertain? No. The four characters are wholly annoying, making the film’s refusal to kill even one of them until the final few minutes all the more ridiculous. I don’t want to spend any time with these people at all, let alone lots of time where they’re not even doing anything interesting (yet filming it all). Plus, they opt NOT to film the only thing they actually DO during the course of the film, which is build a raft. Christ, after a half an hour I was hoping one of the cannibals would put a fake fire hydrant outside their tent to set them up for adultery.
I also checked out the commentary track by Hensleigh, who sounds like Vince Vaughn. He reveals that the four actors were chosen from thousands of auditions. I cannot IMAGINE how fucking bad the others must have been. They’re not horrible actors per se, but in a film like this, where the actors are improvising a good deal of the time, you gotta wonder why they would choose to be this annoying/uninteresting, acting or not.
Dimension is really overreaching with this whole “extreme” nonsense. Say what you want about Rob Zombie’s Halloween (Christ knows I have), but at least it delivered on its promise to be graphically violent. The Mist (also Dimension) contains one of the most brutal endings ever seen in a studio film. Now I know that neither Buried or Jungle were actually produced by Dimension, only distributed by them, but why are they making a whole new label for the seeming purpose of simply overselling movies that are so goddamn tame? Just put them out on the regular Dimension label, same as whatever Hellraiser or Children of the Corn sequel they are releasing that week, rather than dupe the audience. Because, the fact is, neither of these films would have any troubles playing in theaters due to their subject matter or content, it’s just that no theater would want to bother showing them because they fucking suck. At least I know that 3 of their upcoming movies deliver on the promise (Inside, Automaton Transfusion, and Storm Warning), as none of them would be able to play as is in the multiplexes, and feature genuine disturbing moments (emergency C-section with a kitchen knife, fetus torn from pregnant woman, and a “rape prevention device”, respectively) that would never escape the MPAA’s wrath (plus, they are actually good movies to boot).
I’d also like to point out that my buddy Devin was so enraged by this film that he wrote an open letter to Hensleigh on his site, CHUD (an article that will link you right back to HMAD!). I didn’t hate it as much as him (if I did scores, I’d give it a 3 out of 10, mainly due to the quite nice looking HD photography), but it’s still worth a read. It also contains information about a pretty good LA bar that Hensleigh apparently owns.
What say you?