After the claustrophobic thriller The Belko Experiment (released earlier this year), Wolf Creek director Greg McLean continues the uncomfortable viewing streak with Jungle, a survival tale exploring, once again, the limits of human endurance. Based on the memoir by Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg, the film recounts a terrifying episode experienced by Ghinsberg as a young backpacker in the early 1980s. The movie stars Daniel Radcliffe, who shows a great deal of commitment to the physically demanding role. His performance is not only convincing, but it shows a great attention to the psychological nuances that allow his character to evolve.
Feeling uninspired by the prospect of settling into a job and getting married (his family’s plans for him), Yossi Ghinsberg (Radcliffe) leaves native Israel to travel the world. While in Bolivia, he befriends young Swiss teacher Marcus (Joel Jackson) who in turn introduces him to American photographer Kevin (Alex Russell), and the three begin to hang out together. Just as their friendship solidifies, a mysterious traveller named Karl (Thomas Kretschmann) invites them to join him on a trek through the Amazonian jungle. Intrigued by the prospect of travelling off the beaten track, the friends accept the proposal and immediately set off with Karl, who takes on the role of leader and guide.
The wild, uncharted territory makes the young men completely dependant on Karl, but while Marcus trusts him fully, Kevin defiantly questions his choices, creating friction within the group. Yossi becomes a sort of mediator, but he secretly begins to harbour some resentment towards Marcus, whose blistered feet slow down the journey considerably. The exploration of the psychological conflicts between the four men is gripping in itself, but an accident suffered by Yossi takes the story into a new avenue, bringing in wider questions that go beyond any character’s personal experience.
Jungle has all the suspense and thrills that one could wish for. The introductory scenes are perhaps a little unconvincing, as are the flashbacks and hallucinations experienced throughout the film. However, the story gradually builds up in tension and reaches a feverish high, leaving the viewer affected by the experience, especially after a final reminder that it is all based on true events. Chilling and as vivid as can be, Jungle is a captivating contemplation on how frail the bonds between humans are when faced with the overwhelming power of nature.
Jungle is released nationwide on 20th October 2017.
Watch the trailer for Jungle here: