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Hal MacDermot [Film Festival 10.20.08] movie review horror

Year: 2008
Director: James Watkins
Writers: James Watkins
Amazon: link
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: cyberhal
Rating: 8.8 out of 10

Brutal verdict on the state of modern Britain? A cautionary tale to anyone who risks going camping in the usually rubbish English summer? A terrifying exploration of the nature of the thin line between civilization and savagery? Eden Lake is all of these and also a stomach twisting tale of teenagers hunting adults. If you like Feel Good movies, then don't watch Eden Lake. If you want your head done in, do. The story is not particularly original, but it's still a great movie. I went right after Parasomnia. I wasn't planning to go, but I was too lazy to go home. Thank God I stayed. This is a good movie to bring a girlfriend/boyfriend, if you want them to cling onto your hand really hard.

"Jenny escapes to the English countryside for a romantic weekend away with her boyfriend. The location is perfect. A lake enclosed by woodlands, seemingly deserted. Their peace is shattered when a gang violent youths decide to mess with them."

The film starts off predictably peaceful as Jenny (Kelly Reilly) and Steve (Michael Fassbender) set up camp on the shore of a lake, actually a disused and flooded quarry. They enjoy the sun and the diving, until the kids show up and their Rottweiler craps on the sand right next to them. Steve rises to his role as Protector Man and reprimands the foul mouthed kids. In retrospect, this really wasn't a good idea. It begins with a missing beach bag, and it ends with.

I don't want to get into the story details as it would spoil things, but it's basically a cat and mouse thing, and the Director does not let you reenter the comfort zone. The kids are the cats, and every now and then they catch up with their prey, and the results are nasty. It's all about "if you were lost in the woods and needed to make it to the nearest village because nasty little b##t#rds want to kill you, what would you do?" You can taste the pain and the violence in this film. You will see the stab wound, and you know what it is to have a iron spike right through your foot. The DP captures the beauty of the English countryside and the brutality of the people who inhabit it. The skill of the director is that he also explores the impact of the violence on the children. The killers have feelings too. Forced by their mates to hunt and hurt, they are so messed up by their own actions they throw up in fear and disgust. It explores the whole thing about what happens when you take the lid of teenagers. It made me think of Lord of the Flies. I've heard it compared to Them , but I suspect Eden Lake is better. The writer/director James Watkins is on board as a writer with The Descent II (2009), which after having seen Eden Lake, I now feel a bit better about.

All the performances are realistic and believable. The lead teenage bully really reminds me of people I've met but wish I hadn't. His parents too. The geeky Asian kid trying to fit in with his vindictive English "mates" is disturbing in its truth. The camera work reflects the story, sometimes we get the helicopter pan shots of the woods (28 days…) more often the camera is recording events that usually would be cut away from. As I said, forget the comfort zone. I suppose there were maybe a couple of gratuitous shots on "terrified chick in rather low cut skimpy cotton dress running into camera" but who am I to complain? Kelly Reilly does a great job as she morphs from bikini girl who want to avoid conflict, to dirty, bloody woman prepared to kill. I did see the ending coming, but I was still very disturbed (in a good way) by its force. Eden Lake is a great movie and a total head-do.

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agentorange (13 years ago) Reply

YES! As you know, I've been not so secretly hoping James Watkins would hit this one out of the park and from the sounds of it he did. I figured Eden Lake wouldn't be totally original but a good film doesn't have to reinvent to be well done.

Makes me feel a little better about The Descent II as well. Cheers!


trogen (13 years ago) Reply

whats was it that stopped this getting a 9/10? :)


cyberhal (13 years ago) Reply

good question


Anonymous (13 years ago) Reply

bad film didnt like it at all

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