Jungle

Real life is ultimately the most horrific. A horror movie is never more jarring than after opening with “Based on a true story” or “Inspired by true events.” Something about knowing what you are watching (or something at least resembling what you are watching) actually happened to a real person seems to make it more sharp and disturbing.

If it could happen to them, it could happen to you. And that removes the corner of that safety blanket of fiction.

Jungle tells the true story of Yossi as he backpacks in South America. After meeting a man in the market, he convinces his new friends to join him on an expedition to an untouched tribe deep in the jungle. The hike unravels as one friend is unable to continue and Yossi and the other continue on without a guide.

This decision is, of course, horribly ill-fated. Almost immediately, the river devastates Yossi and his friend, leaving Yossi alone for weeks in the unforgiving jungle.

Under normal circumstances, I would not consider Jungle a horror movie. Drama, absolutely. Yet, as I watched the plot unfold, I kept waiting for the horror angle to be revealed. Murderous hiking mate? Turning to cannibalism like Ravenous? Blood thirsty locals like The Green Inferno? Yet those detours never came.

Instead, aside from the fact that I watched it at the Telluride Horror Show, it is the portrayal of this real, dramatic story that makes it horror. The filmmakers use their treatment of fear and the graphic gore of the circumstance to present the horror in the story.

The movie is extremely well done. I felt every single awful moment with Yossi. I cringed at his injuries and the things he had to eat. I cried at the end. I felt his survival, and that result is a testament to the film-making.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go read the book and never go hiking alone in the jungle.

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