Monday, January 5, 2009

Eden Lake (2008)

Kids today are an awful bunch. Not only are most of them spoiled brats, but they also don’t seem to care for anyone (or anything) except for themselves. Across the world we are seeing their selfish behavior spreading…and even turning violent. It seems that not a week goes by without a news report of a child (or a group of children) shooting someone, stabbing someone or stealing something. How have supposedly innocent children fallen so far? Some people blame parents, while others blame DNA, ADD, violent video games/movies/music or just the environment the kids were raised in.

Well, I for one can’t stand most kids and think people should stop having so many if they can’t properly care for them. How many times have you been to the grocery store and seen an unruly kid causing a scene while their parent pretends nothing is happening? Take responsibility for your spawn, dammit!

The kids in Eden Lake aren’t much different…mouthing off to their elders, stealing things and generally harassing a young couple, Steve (Michael Fassbender) and Jenny (Kelly Reilly), who have decided to trek into the English countryside for the weekend. Steve picks an isolated spot next to a lake that is set to be developed into a sprawling housing community, but he and Jenny find they have company when they trespass on the hang-out spot of the local teens. At first, the kids only annoy them with loud music and their barking Rottweiler, but things soon escalate to the point where Steve and Jenny are fighting for their lives.

First off, after hearing so many good things about Eden Lake, like how brutal and shocking it was, I was stoked to check it out. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I found the film pretty dull, generic and banal. It’s just your standard “survival” horror flick featuring a couple stuck in the middle of nowhere who are terrorized by the locals. Only instead of crazy backwoods hicks after Steve and Jenny it’s just a group of snot-nosed kids. Even then their only real threat is the ragtag group’s sadistic leader, Brett (Jack O’Connell), who bullies his blokes into hunting down and torturing the couple.

The story, written by James Watkins (who also directed) just kinda limps along, staggering towards a finale that you totally see coming. I did like the fact that the ending wasn’t the typical “happy revenge” one, but by then I was too bored to really care. The script just seemed too generic and could have been lifted from previous horror movies (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Just Before Dawn, etc., etc.). The script is also peppered with clichés and I nearly spent the entire time yelling at the screen, “No, stupid, don’t trust HIM!!” or “Don’t run that way!” or “RUN!” The script just felt stale and trite…the only “new” thing with the whole story was the inclusion of the villains being teenagers (this film’s big shtick) – but that just wasn’t enough for me.

There is a fair amount of violence and lots of blood, but I wouldn’t necessarily call Eden Lake a gory film. There are lots of stabbings, beatings, even a child that is lit on fire, with the special FX being quite well done. Still, even a few scenes of shocking violence did little to pique my interest or alleviate my boredom.

I will also say that I did enjoy the direction by James Watkins. The aerial shots over the forest were spectacular and I loved the contrast of colors from the opening scenes (bright and cheery) to the middle and end scenes (dark, muddy colors). Where Watkins fails in the script he (nearly) makes up for in his crisp shots, but it’s just not enough to save the film.

I don’t know what the big fuss over Eden Lake is…to me it is just a run-of-the-mill horror movie that fails to deliver anything new or interesting. I’d recommend it strictly for a rental only.

Available from Amazon!

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