If you’re a horror/thriller movie fan like myself who is always looking for a good heart-pumping, jaw-dropping scare, you may want to check out Eden Lake.
This week, I Yahooed “best horror films of 2008 and 2009” and saw it repeatedly mentioned by reviewers. Some gushed, calling it “one of the best of the decade.” Luckily, someone had put it on YouTube, so I viewed it there.
Written and directed by James Watkins, this 2008 British film is about Jenny (Kelly Reilly), a soft spoken nursery school teacher who goes on a weekend getaway to Eden Lake with her boyfriend, Steve, (Michael Fassbender), a cute guy who seems a tad impulsive.
While there, they encounter a group of young trouble-making morons who interrupt the couple’s peaceful outing by playing loud music on a boombox. (I guess a boombox was necessary because the scene wouldn’t have worked if everyone had been quietly plugged into their individual iPods, but boomboxes are ancient artifacts from the 1900s that can only be found in museums these days!) Refusing to ignore the kids, Steve (trying to be a bad@ss) confronts the group, planting the seed for what’s to come. The harassment escalates, and the couple soon begins to realize the kids aren’t just jerks, they’re sinister.
When the punk gang steals the couple’s SUV and Steve accidentally kills their vicious hell hound in self-defense, “it’s been brung,” as competitive cheerleaders say. Seeking retribution, the gang of children (without corn) hunts the couple, who attempts to escape from the woods on foot.
This is an effective, well-paced horror film filled with tension and suspense. If you like edgy scary movies, you probably won’t be disappointed. The performances are good, and the actors convincingly evoke empathy.
Many scenes are cringe-worthy, but almost all are surprising and non-cliched, except one near the end. Word to the wise: If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are being chased/stalked by someone in the woods, never get into the first car you encounter after escaping to the highway, because chances are it’s going to be someone who knows your stalker, and they’ll take you back to them!
And like many horror films that characterize rural residents as a danger to city-dwelling visitors, this film is no different.
Generally, all horror films have some message about morality or society’s lack of it. This one seems to comment on several things:
* Our desensitized modern society. One of the kids films the violence on her phone as if it’s all a movie or future YouTube upload.
* A generational divide. It implies that kids today aren’t really kids anymore, or aren’t like we were or kids before us. They’ve been left alone to their own devices and may be dangerously different.
*Some parents are idiots. We see their apathy, lack of responsibility and denial.
* Fear and violence breed fear and violence, hurting innocents in the process. In self-defense, Jenny regrettably kills one of the nicer punk kids who may be trying to help her.
* Pick your battles. Don’t be a badass like Steve. Move your campsite if necessary to avoid conflict and a potential murder/torture situation.
When it seems like the movie may be heading towards a traditional, hopeful Hollywood ending with kittens and rainbows, think again! It takes another dark, unsuspecting turn that makes it truly frightening. Check it out if you’re interested.