Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eden Lake – James Watkins (2008)

Ladies and Germs, this is not your typical horror film.

You might be at WalMart, looking through their bargain bin or browsing through Blockbuster's previously viewed 5-for-$20 selection when you come across this title and think this is just another straight-to-video genre pic.

My God, you could not be more wrong.

Eden Lake has a very familiar plot but it manages to distinguish itself from the likes of Wolf Creek and other generic ‘lost-in-the-woods-please-somebody-save-us-from-these-sadists’ pics.

First, Kelly Reilly’s performance as the damsel in distress who shifts from victim waiting to be picked off to bad-ass ready to destroy these vicious bastards up is believable.

James Watkins knows how to build characters and tension in equal measure and that is a rare commodity these days.

Second, each member in the gang of punk kids has their own separate personality, which most screenwriters don’t bother with.

And the leader of the gang is unusually cruel, even for movies like this.

If you've seen Fernando Meirelles' City of God, you'll remember the sequence where one child forces his friend to kill his playmate. After eight years, that scene still unsettles me.

This is the kind of cruelty I'm talking about. It's that kind of sadism present in Eden Lake.

And lastly, the film is actually saying something about the complicity of inaction.

The two most disturbing sequences in the film come when the leader of the gang makes everyone take the knife to one of the victims, though it’s clear most of them don’t want to.

It’s equally clear that those who want out could easily overpower those who want to keep going, but they don’t.

The second very chilling sequencing is the last when our heroine stumbles onto the parents of these kids.

Having said all of this and giving this film a great deal of credit, I’m not sure if I actually liked it or not. I am pretty sure I did not enjoy it.

However, it certainly stuck with me and giving me the satisfaction I wanted by seeing the bad guys get their comeuppance by meeting a grizzly and bloody certainly would have been gratifying, but it would have undermined the whole point of the film.

I do recommend it, though, but only for fans of either horror movies, art films or, ideally both.

There are elements of both Lord of the Flies and Wrong Turn (how’s that for a combo?) here.

Expect to be haunted for a few days after watching it.

Maybe have something like "Superbad" on deck to watch if you need to get the taste of this one out of your brain.

Because for the record, the end of this film is almost as devastating as the end of George Romero's original Night of the Living Dead.

And, just in case you care, I'm listening to

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