Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Eden Lake - The First Great Horror Flick Of 2009 Is Here.

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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.

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12 comments:

Jon said...

Haha I finally signed up for netflix. Another added the the queue...

thebonebreaker said...

Great review Johnny!!

I keep hearing great things about this one ~ I am looking forward to seeing it [it currently has a wait, in my Netflix Queue]

Johnny said...

Bout time Jon!

Bone, I couldn't wait for Netflix to get it in any longer so I just blind bought it from Best Buy! I knew I was gonna like it ever since I saw the trailer many months ago.

Brad said...

I checked it out and it was pretty cool. Very disturbing as you said, since the characters actually have a bit of emotional depth.

I do get pissed at how the world is though when it comes to defending yourself. It's like you have to damn near get killed before anyone lets you off on a self-defense claim.

It's easy to see where the thought for characters like the Punisher came from.

Johnny said...

Should be some kind of law where if it can be 100% proven that you killed someone because they killed someone you love or some such, you get off the hook scott free. Judge should understand and just say "thank you for taking that scum off our hands, you're free to go."

Reminds me of that I Spit On Your Grave tagline ...

"This woman has just chopped, broken, and burned four men beyond recognition ... but no jury in America would ever convict her!"

If only that were the truth...

Gore-Gore Girl said...

Wow - I hated this film! I totally see what you're saying - I'm down for a more gritty horror, based in reality. And I was also super excited about the movie, especially being away from home (I'm from England, been away for a few years in the states), and having personal experience with "the chav problem" - I was *well up* for a bit of good British horror (and to rub *another* awesome British horror film in my American boyfriend's face!), but oh my...I was so angry at this film! Even with your good review, did you not get absolutely infuriated by the pathetic lack of action on the part of the couple? Especially the girlfriend! I told my boyfriend during the scene where she sits and watches her bloke get cut to pieces, "If that was us, you best believe I would be fashioning a weapon and at least *trying* to do something!" I've heard that from other women too, frustrated with the passivity of the lead.

But my boyfriend got mad at the guy, also. I just found the whole thing very frustrating (and not because the film managed to express the frustration of lack of justice - I understand what the film was trying to do, and I was all about it).

Anyway, not shitting on your review or anything, just interesting to see such starkly different reactions (a quick look at imdb will show these polarized reactions too - it's certainly dividing audiences).

P.S. Some English folks are angry about the portrayal of the youths, saying it's a hysterical reaction to exaggerated, right-wing messages about English working class kids - don't know if you know bout this, but in England there's something of a "youth crisis" - or so they say. The film came out of this perceived problem, which I have to say seems real in terms of my experience as citizen and teacher, but I also don't doubt that the tabloids completely exploit and exaggerate it. Anyway, certainly very interesting film in that light.

Johnny said...

I completely see what you're saying in regards to the lack of action and perhaps stupidity of the leads, but ya need that in a horror movie! If they turned all Rambo and fashioned all kinds of devices and traps to kill the kids right off the bat, there'd be no movie! Did it bother me? Not really, no.

When the chick is watching her dude get cut to pieces, yes, it does seem kinda odd that she's just sitting there watching. But what else could she really do? Take a run at the kids and try to attack them? She knew damn well that if she attempted that, she'd be killed right on the spot. I got the sense that maybe being close to her husband, even if he was being killed, was comforting to her in a way and so she kinda wanted to at least see him in his final moments. It'd be nice to think that if that were your boyfriend, you'd Macguyver a machete out of some tree branches and kill all of those fuckers for what they were doing to your man, but in that situation I just don't know that it'd be a realistic possibility. The way I saw it, she pretty much did all she could under the circumstances.

Thanks for the comment! Nice to hear a different opinion and get some intelligent discussion going in regards to the movie!

Jason Takes Portland said...

I finally just saw this and since you are the only person I know who has scene I might as well post here even though its a bit old. First off I am stoked that this guy is also penning Descent 2, this movie reminded me alot of the first Descent, the camera work and music seemed almost identical. What I thought was interesting was that the time the woman did fight back (stabbing that kid in the neck) is what ultimately was her undoing. It is interesting to have teenagers as the killers but not cuz of some demonic force (like Children of the Corn). This might be one of the most plausible horror movies ever. Sure the kids are fucked in the head but you get a glimpse of their less than ideal home life and there is a realistic escalation of events to get them there, and you can see the mob mentality brewing. I almost feel worst for that Indian kid. This is the sort of movie that really sticks to you, almost like the first time I saw the original Texas Chainsaw.

Johnny said...

Totally agree and I cannot wait to see The Descent 2. Did you see the awesome trailer for it?

Jason in Portland said...

Yes I did atand I thought it was very good, any idea when it comes out?

Completely off topic, last weekend I attended the annual Zompire film festival. Check it out at zompire.com. Three nights of zombie and vampire shorts plus a feature length indie film followed by a feature classic. That is 6 hours of fun each night. This was my second year attending, the shorts were cool though nothing as good as Zombie Jesus (look it up) from last year. We saw a working print of this film called the Reverent (think of Pinapple Express but with the main characters being invincible undead stoners). The finale was a showing of the classic Day of the Dead. Also there was a Zombie Prom. Man I love Portland.

Johnny said...

According to Wikipedia it's supposed to come out next month in the US but I don't know how true that is. I think it was supposed to be released in the UK recently but got pushed back. So not entirely sure but it should be coming sometime real soon.

Zompire sounds pretty awesome i'll have to look into that. Thanks for the heads up!

Anonymous said...

Really good movie. Of course, the movie leads made decisions which would be considered "irrational" or "counter-intuitive" to push the plot along. The telling thing is that, in this flick, these decisions vary widely among viewers. For example, my wife was (like gore-gore girl) decrying the female lead's passivity while her bf was being tortured. I immediately rebuked her - which man would want his woman to put herself at risk against terrible odds to make a foolhardy attempt to save him? I don't think I'm alone amongst the guys in thinking in such a (?chivalrous ?chauvinistic) fashion.

To me, the one potential "turning-point" was after the dog had been killed and the chav-in-chief had tossed the keys back at the protagonist. This was a stupid move on the part of the baddie. It's axiomatic in this sort of setting that every stupid move needs to be punished. Instead of attempting to drive in a wild and reckless fashion *away* from the punks (who were on *foot*, for chrissakes!), I would've driven straight for them and run them over. No remorse.

Of course, that will likely lead to a lot of legal complications (the good never win do they?), but I, for one, would rather take my chance with the legal system. For one thing, there are really great lawyers out there. For another, I can lie through my teeth to construct a plausibly defensible scenario, with someone to back me up and no other witnesses. No, I wouldn't feel bad about lying under these circumstances - the end justifies the means and life is never as fair or just as we'd like.