Eden Lake (2008)

June 16, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

A school teacher with wholesome beauty and a her preppy, clean-cut boyfriend go to Eden Lake for a romantic weekend, and all is well until they run into a group of misguided children. They’re not possessed by demons and they aren’t vampires; they are simply misguided. Not much horror to the synopsis on paper, but it works. Written and directed by James Watkins, Eden Lake boasts a realistic terror with a gritty story that explores the consequences that come from a lack of proper guidance in the world, as well as the nature of violence that sits quietly within us all.

Watkins gives us a story that we’ve seen before. Couple goes to a beautiful getaway, only to have it ruined by violent, adolescent thugs. The minute Michael Fassbender and Kelly Reilly hit the vacation spot, they seem isolated; they stand out from all theĀ  people they interact with. Watkins does a wonderful job of capturing the peacefulness, and tranquility of the nature the couple run away to, giving us the calmness before the storm. The tension is well built, going at a natural pace, as the kids start off as an annoyance and evolve to become a murderous threat. Eden Lake transitions from a haven to a hell on earth for the couple, and one can feel the gruesomeness of the film. This blood-drenched horror is delivered with believability that will make most shutter and sympathize with the couple.

Kelly Reilly plays Jenny, a plain Jane school teacher, and does a fine job. She makes the transition from a girl-next-door type to someone that taps into survival mode, and will kill to make it out of hell. Reilly doesn’t make a cliche transition, which is turning into a coldblooded killer that will kick-ass and take names, but she does what she needs to do to survive. When she’s baptized in blood, she doesn’t want to make the transition, but she has no other choice. At times she grieves for the lives that she takes, but at the same time there are instances where she has a look in her eyes showing that she embraces revenge. Her boyfriend, Michael Fassbender playing Steve, does an equally solid job playing the preppy boyfriend that tries to avoid being a pushover, although he’s outnumbered. The chemistry that they have with each other is typical honeymoon love, but there are a few gritty scenes where we can’t help but feel for their situation. They didn’t deserve any of this, and the “that’s life” mind-set just wont work in their position.

Eden Lake is a bold film that will push most over the edge, and keep hitting on the way down. This is a film where anything goes, and where the tension is built up to a point where the film lives on the edge of a very sharp knife. The film works very well as somewhat of a cautionary tale of taking the responsibility of raising children the right way, as well as how violence only breeds violence. This is Mean Creek meets Funny Games with something extra. There’s a good chance that this film will leave your train of thought paralyzed until the credits hit the end mark.

Potential Drawbacks:

Stupid decisions. The main characters in most Horror films will make many stupid decisions, in order to propel the plot of the film, and this may bother some (or many). Some may also not by into the kids in the film taking things that far all because of the death of a *spoiler* dog. There’s also that controversial ending that will split audiences right in half.

Film Recommendations:

Funny Games
Mean Creek
Straw Dogs

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