A middle aged couple by the names of Steve (Michael Fassbender) and Jenny (Kelly Reilly) decide after work to go on a weekend getaway. They end up in Eden lake, a desolate location in the woods next to a beach. While enjoying the scenery along with a bit of peace and quiet. They later encounter a group of bullying teens with nothing else better to do then ruin their weekend. After an encounter with the youths ends with bloody results. Steve and Jenny find themselves fighting for survival against the young terrors. -summary
I really have to admit that I'm not a fan of the "Children Gone Wild" theme. My experiences with these types of films have been nowhere near very bad. Oh no, they have been downright atrocious. I blame this on the cream of the ayatollah of crappyola films such as Children of the Corn, and the misunderstood, unappreciated mass of pieces that I love to hate Who Can Kill a Child?. These two films almost made me abandon my beloved horror genre altogether and steamroll towards musicals. Well I may be stretching the truth right there but you get the point. Eden Lake is the type of horror/thriller hybrid I can get into. The film never gets old to me and it's now amongst my favorites.
This is the kind of horror I dig the most. Gritty, thought provoking, and most of all... realistic, with people behaving in realistic ways(they have their moments though). Directed by James Watkins and released in 2008, Eden Lake is a British made film that delivered for me on numerous levels despite being slightly cliched and lacking originality.
The premise is very down to earth. I actually know of situations very similar to occur. Hell, when I was a wild youth, me and my punk friends terrorized couples in the parks also, but never to this extent, but I knew others who have went very far and they're still in prison up to this day. Therefore, this type of situation isn't far fetched at all. The couple are put through hell by these aggressive miscreants. The characterization is so well done portraying some of them as evil little bastards. The lead bully Bret t(Jack O' Connell) is definitely the show stealer here to me with such a menacing performance. I found him very interesting because there's hints of his troubles taking place at home. The viewer is given bits and pieces to draw their own conclusions. I commend the director for taking the more believable route. Instead of resorting to a useless supernatural gimmick which completely murders any plausibility.
I really enjoy the character development because despite the youngsters actions, it's clear that some of them really aren't at fault. The film does a pretty good job working on typical teenage dilemmas such as peer pressure and bullying. The bully of the group is a true menace, and his associates have every right to fear him, because they witness his wrath first hand and they know he means business. The couple are also developed rather well, with their romance given enough time to grow on the viewer which gives it a genuine feel. I do have small issues with at least one character, which can also be chalked up as crappy writing. Steve actually does something that I found to be incredibly unrealistic. Maybe on that side of the world people walk into homes of folks they don't know. However, I can't see someone doing that before knocking on the door. I understand the relevance of the scene, but it could have been done in a better way.
Although done many times over and over, but a better location couldn't have been found to shoot this film. The forest or the woods remains one of the best settings to deliver a horror film of this nature. Nothing possesses the ambiance, and creates a better sense of dread and hopelessness. The protagonist is always put in a no win situation of course, but this type of environment almost always has the right feel. For these reasons, the suspense remains at a high tempo once the film really gets started.
The gore in the film is minimal, however, when characters suffer from injury they indeed wear the wounds of war pretty well. There are some disturbing moments which makes up for the lack of gore. But during these moments is also when the characters are revealed not to be one dimensional.
Predictability also isn't really an issue here. This happens to be another of the films strengths to a certain degree. Some events can be easily foreshadowed, while others took me by complete surprise. The ending definitely took me by surprise, and to see it wasn't over the top ridiculous was a plus, and I'll just leave it at that. The acting was very good practically all around, but I do have a small issue concerning it. At times, I found it difficult to understand what O' Connell was saying due to his speed and accent when he appeared agitated. I really don't care for subtitles so I have a small issue in this area.
At the end of the day, Eden Lake was definitely a refreshing watch for me. I would gladly take this over any horror comedy bullshit any day of the millennium. This is real horror here, and the scary thing is that this could actually happen. Although the film can be disturbing, I still recommend this to those who are searching for something on the realistic side, with characters who are actually developed and aren't used as mere plot devices. If your idea of good horror is a large body count, an overabundance of gore with eyeball deaths. Then this isn't for you. The film is 91 minutes.
Pros: Suspenseful, quite disturbing at times, not really predictable
*** out of **** "Eden Lake", like "Saw", "Deliverance", and many others before it; is marketed and consistently labeled as a horror film, but feels more like a thriller than a film of that one genre. While it does deal with things genuinely horrific, and the presence of bloodshed, it thrills appropriately and dishes out the brutality that you've come to expect. Horror sites reviewed it, praised it, and eventually lead this movie-goer to see it; and it's about time that I … more
Eden Lake is pretty much your standard survival-against-the-odds fare. The only difference is that instead of the usual monster/alien/chainsaw wielding cannibal or hillbilly redneck this time our hapless victims are fleeing from a gang of bicycle mounted pubescent Brits lead by a kid who'd give the Malcolm McDowell character in CLOCKWORK ORANGE a run for his money. Tedious for me but if you're a fan of slasher flicks this film is going to send you into the throes of … more
Somebody must have seen. Somebody must have heard. Evidently, someone was crafty enough to actually do their homework & make a horror film which sets out to do exactly what a horror film should do. British director James Watkins get it's right. Hoo boy! Eden Lake gets my vote for being one of the most brutal depictions of a vacation gone wrong that I've seen in many years. In the brutal tradition of Wolf Creek or High Tension, Eden Lake carries a big stick & reminds it's … more
There have been many attempts at a genre film that emulates a very real feeling of horror that may happen in real life. I've seen quite a good number of them, some are decent, some are great but most failed to impress. Writer and director James Watkins' "Eden Lake" may have the usual clichés of horror suspense thrillers, the main premise offers nothing new, but what makes it very different is the fact that it carries a lot of effective humanity … more