Sunday, April 12, 2009


EDEN LAKE (2008)

Our story begins with a young couple (Jenny & Steve) looking for some peace and quiet in the gated community of Eden Lake, in the middle of the woods somewhere outside London. An innocent attempt at getting some sun is quickly interrupted by a group of rowdy locals on the beach. As darkness approaches, the couple sets up camp and hears screams coming from the woods. Camera angles from inside the woods give the impression that the two are being watched. The following morning they awake to their tires slashed and their car is later stolen by the locals. They encounter the group and an altercation ensues; Steve accidentally stabbing their dog during the struggle. The gang ties Steve to a post with barbed wire in the middle of the woods and torture him -- slashing his arms, back and neck with a hunting knife while taking photos with his camera phone. The two escape, but Steve is badly injured, and the couple retreats to a nearby cabin to treat his wounds. Some great skin effects here - the knife wounds are deep and bleeding black blood.

Jenny leaves Steve hidden in safety and flees through the woods to look for help. On her way she steps on a sharp metal spike, which goes straight through her foot and she pulls it out herself - you can feel her pain when you watch this. Shortly after she is captured and tied to a post with Steve, surrounded by firewood and set ablaze by the kids, camera phone rolling. The kids are sickened by the smell of burning flesh, which gives Jenny a window to escape and Steve is left to burn. She then stumbles upon a local map of the campsites and when the kids arrive she takes cover in a dumpster full of what appears to be feces (a disturbing moment in the film - we truly feel Jenny's helplessness). One of the kids emerges from the woods and Jenny stabs him in the throat with a shard of broken glass. rocking him back and forth like a baby while he bleeds out, a truly shocking scene because we know she did not want to kill him but was taken over with rage by the death of her fiance. Darkness falls again, and the kids begin to turn on each other. Jenny escapes again to a nearby road, where she is "rescued" by the brother of one of the gang members. She steals his car and speeds off down the road, mowing down a little girl from the gang in a revenge scene reminscent of the end of Hostel. Jenny crashes the car at a local backyard party, which of course happens to be thrown by the parents & family of the gang. They quickly learn that Jenny ran over their daughter, and take matters into their own hands. We don't know what becomes of Jenny, but we can only imagine the worst.

This is one of the few horror films that does not have a happy ending -- evil wins. Shot mostly in the forest, with very little budget thrown into high priced special effects and focusing more on the terror of being hunted, the film succeeds in creating a realistic story that could happen to anyone. Unlike most horror films where an innocent weekend getaway turns into a nighmare by the hands of a serial killer, the victims in Eden Lake meet their doom by a group of children. The film is brutal and challenges us to consider if this could really have happened. The story is powerful in its simplicity, and while not scary in the least, the overwhelming emotion of being hunted/destined to fail is the real terror.

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