Tuesday, January 13, 2009
This film was technically released in 2008 (in the UK, which is where it was made) but it came to the states on DVD on January 6th of this year. Regardless, it's one of the most disturbing and best horror movies I have seen in a long time and it's proven a great start to my 2009 horror movie watching year!
Eden Lake is the simple story of a young couple, Jenny and Steve, who take a vacation out to a wooded lake and run into a bunch of hoodlum youths who initially appear to be nothing more than an annoyance (loud shitting dog, loud shitty music, cursing, you know the drill). But the mere annoyances quickly escalate and the young couple finds themselves in the ultimate battle for survival.
Young couple in a beautiful location facing unimaginable terror. I know, I know. It sounds like the ultimate cliche and the makings for unoriginal horror. I'm not gonna pretend this movie is completely original or groundbreaking or anything, but it's a hell of a good horror flick and it really stands out from the hundreds upon hundreds of movies that have this same exact premise. Maybe it's the good acting or the competent directing. Maybe it's the fact that I was actually emotionally invested in the lead characters and thus was saddened when bad things happened to them, as opposed to craving bloodshed, gore and madness (of which there is plenty of all three) like I find myself doing in most horror movies. Maybe it's the fact that it's actually scary and disturbing (thanks in large part to the killers, who are real teenagers as opposed to masked super villains). Whatever the reason, Eden Lake has set the bar for 2009 horror and has got me all kinds of excited about the year to come. And I think we all need to keep our eyes on straight to dvd horror this year. The straight to dvd department used to be seen as a way to dump shitty movies on us without investing all the time and money into getting them theatrical runs, but the last couple years have proven that straight to video horrors are becoming far superior to those in theatres.
This movie really got me thinking, which a good movie should, and which horror movies quite frankly rarely do. It left me empty and disturbed and I was really left with the sense that bad people kinda always prevail in the end, in the real world. It seems like when someones doing wrong to you, you can either do one of two things. You can be a timid pussy and do nothing about it, in which case it will continue to happen. Or you can stand up for yourself and fight back, in which case you will probably end up either in prison, dead, or in a worse situation than you were already in. I feel like that's kinda the message that lies at the heart of this movie ; the world is a fucked up place and there's not much we can do to fight it. The good are, and always will be, outnumbered by the bad (much like Steve and Jenny are outnumbered by their attackers) and the bad will not give up until they prevail, no matter how hard you fight back. And that's pretty fuckin depressing! At one point, as Steve is about to fight back on their attackers, Jenny says to him. "it's not worth it" and Steve retorts "if everyone said that, where would we be?" It's a nice sentiment, but we soon find out that maybe it was best they did not fight back and stick up for themselves ...
But what's really disturbing is that these kids picked this happy couple to torture and kill and that was probably gonna be the end result of whatever path the couple decided to take anyway. A happy film with a happy ending, as i'm sure you've figured out by now, this movie is not! Writer/director James Watkins (who is a force to be reckoned with in the horror world and just penned The Descent 2) clearly is annoyed with today's society and that really comes through in this amazingly disturbing film. But don't worry, gore hounds! Watkins has constructed not only a meaningful horror movie, but also one that's pretty heavy on the blood and guts, which should please just about any horror fan out there.
The whole movie can be summed up in one shot, where Jenny is staring into a mirror out in the woods that's posted on a map of the nature trails she is in. The mirror reads "The Most Dangerous Animal In The Forest", which perfectly frames out her face, the face of a human being.