REVIEW: ‘Tragic Jungle’ is a Slow Slough Through a Dark Jungle

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Tragic Jungle

Content Warning: Tragic Jungle contains sexual assault

Tragic Jungle is a Netflix Original suspense film starring Shanti Obispo. When Florence flees from an arranged marriage to an English man, her flight takes her into the heart of the jungle where she stumbles upon tree gum harvesters and is quickly dragged into the dangers of their world.

One of the keys to delivering a successful narrative is cultivating the appropriate atmosphere. Whether it’s one of tension, hope, or danger. If you don’t build the right tone for a movie the story will never sell itself.  Something about this tonal cultivation that is sometimes overlooked is that even if production can establish that tone if they don’t utilize it quickly it will dissipate. Tone is an extremely fleeting thing. This is a fact that Tragic Jungle doesn’t seem to appreciate.

From the moment we are introduced to Florence(Obispo) as she silently navigates the jungle paths the film constantly tries to sell the audience on the ever-present danger Florence is navigating. And while there are moments where it succeeds in this endeavor, it rarely pays out to anything. Long moments of silence and expectant looks on the fear cloaked faces of the movie’s cast build up that moment only for the tension to be allowed to bleed away into an overriding sense of boredom as the cast goes back to doing whatever they had been a minute before. Unfortunately, this mishandling of the tone of the film isn’t the only hurdle to getting the audience invested in the story.

Tragic Jungle’s other major flaw comes from its presentation of its main character Florence. The star of this story has fewer lines than almost anyone else in the film. Because of this, and the lack of a secondary source of information, the viewer is never really given a sense of who Florence is. While some sympathy is gained for the character simply because no one should have to go through what she does in this movie, it never comes close to being a true investment in the character.

While Florence never manages to draw the viewer in, the rest of the cast actively repels any sympathy away. While initially coming across as simple day laborers, the group is quickly established to be far worse than simple folk forced to work for bad people. This is made clear early when the movie establishes that only the threat of violence will keep them from taking liberties with Florance. Perhaps I’m just cold-hearted, but once an entire group of people starts giving off those kinds of vibes I’m just not going to be sympathetic to them when something goes wrong.

The area where Tragic Jungle excels is at how it presents its setting. Everything in this movie looks like it has been used, and mistreated for months in the middle of a Central American rainforest. Nothing is oddly clean, and the cast looks like they have had to make do.

So, when taken all together, Tragic Jungle establishes its setting well, and manages to repeatedly set up a foundation of tension throughout the story, but rarely actually delivers on that strong foundation.

Tragic Jungle is streaming now on Netflix.

 

Tragic Jungle
  • 5/10
    Rating - 5/10
5/10

TL;DR

So, when taken all together, Tragic Jungle establishes its setting well, and manages to repeatedly set up a foundation of tension throughout the story, but rarely actually delivers on that strong foundation.