Sunday, October 9, 2011

#429. Welcome to the Jungle (2007)


Directed By: Jonathan Hensleigh

Starring: D. Kevin Epps, Sandy Gardiner and Callard Harris






Tag line: "From the Producers of The Terminator and Aliens"







Don't let the title fool you...this jungle is anything but inviting!  

While vacationing in Fiji, four twenty-something friends overhear a story concerning the whereabouts of Michael Rockefeller, the son of former U.S. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, who went missing when his boat capsized off the coast of New Guinea in 1961. Presumed dead by just about everybody, a helicopter pilot (John Leonetti) renews hope that the younger Rockefeller may, in fact, be alive, claiming to have spotted an elderly white man in his 60's living among the cannibalistic natives. Believing this to be Michael Rockefeller, the four friends: Mandy (Sandy Gardiner), Colby (Callard Harris), Bijou (Veronica Sywak) and Mikey (Nick Richey), pack up their video cameras and take off for the Asmat region of New Guinea, convinced that recorded proof of Rockefeller's existence will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. 

Even by horror movie standards, the four main characters in Welcome to the Jungle are stupid, oftentimes ridiculously so. With no real plan (but plenty of booze), they sail from Fiji to New Guinea, and once there, set off into the jungle in a rented vehicle. At one point during the drive, Bijou reads a travelers advisory issued by the U.S. Government, warning of roadside bandits. Sure enough, as the friends are making their way down a secluded jungle road, they spot a mother and child sitting right in the middle of it, inexplicably blocking their way. They stop, and are approached by men with assault rifles, who fire on them as they quickly turn around, barely escaping with their lives. Now, that's a pretty traumatic experience, one you might expect would have them scurrying back to civilization with their tails between their legs. Nope. These morons press on, setting up camp in the jungle, where Bijou and Mikey get drunk...each and every night. Mikey even gathers up a souvenir along the way: a human skull he swipes from a native outpost! It's to the film's credit that it generates some decent suspense from a story that can only end one way, and though we're on the edge of our seats in the final act, Welcome to the Jungle's escalation from simply dangerous to downright grisly comes as no surprise whatsoever. 

Much like Ruggero Deodato's infamous 1980 film, Cannibal Holocaust (a documentary film crew blindly travels into Cannibal territory with tragic consequences), Welcome to the Jungle features characters completely out of their element, whose ignorance leads them down the path of their own destruction. Yet where the filmmakers in Cannibal Holocaust were done in by arrogance and prejudice, the main characters in Welcome to the Jungle are just plain dumb. Frankly, they were doomed from the start.








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