Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Eden Lake (2008)

Having watched Dying Breed a few weeks back, Eden Lake comes along and shows us how it is supposed to be done! Despite a few horror movie cliche moments, this is a strong, competent and truly harrowing experience.

Steve and his partner Jenny head out of the city for a romantic weekend away, after an evening at the pub with the colourful locals, they discover that the lovely wilderness of Eden Lake is about to be transformed into a luxury gated community. Not quite what they were expecting, but they bypass the fence and make their way to the water's edge in an attempt to make the most of the location whilst it remains.

Once at the lake shore their romantic getaway once again comes to a grinding halt when the local yobs turn up with their dog, loud music, spitting and cursing. After a few swapped words between the yobs and Steve, they move on and things go back to normal.... at least for now.

The next day the couple discover their Jeep has been stolen and whilst looking for it happen upon the yobs from the day before, an altercation between the leader, Brett, sees Steve killing Brett's pet pooch and that is when things take a turn for the worst.

I will be honest and say that as far as plot goes, Eden Lake has nothing new to offer, the entire opening is reminiscent of a million other movies with the overhead car traveling through wilderness shots, the lovely couple who are given all of the obligatory "we are nice people" shots and even the "what was that noise" moments. What makes this film stand out is the tension that it creates and the connection we feel to Jenny as she is being hunted through the wilderness. The violence in the movie is graphic and realistic, but it is not explicit. Something I found all the more scary. Director James Watkins has managed to get a cast of youngsters that play each of their roles perfectly. The film has a very real message about peer pressure and fitting in, albeit not in your face. Steve is played by Michael Fassbender and plays the everyday guy with simplicity, Jenny is played by Kelly Reilly in a role that I am sure she found most grueling, as she spends much of it covered in mud running through bracken and bushland and wearing nothing but a floral dress. Performances overall were quite impressive and authentic.

The musical score is by David Juliyan whose work on another similar horror movie, The Descent, helps add to the overall ambiance and sense of impending doom. There are a more than a few shared moments between Eden Lake and The Descent, which may also have something to do with Watkins involvement in the upcoming Descent sequel.

Whilst the film does have its moments, I fear the ending, which I felt was a little disappointing and certainly the films weakest point, will doubtless leave people unsettled. If you are after a nail biting, tension filled thriller, then look no further. If you are after something a little less psychological and brainless, go rent Dying Breed.

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