Another entrant into the monstrous children category of horror, Eden Lake is a surprisingly powerful film.
Steve (pre-fame Michael Fassbender) and Jenny (Kelly Reilly) are a loving couple, and Steve’s organised a small holiday for the two of them at the pristine Eden Lake before it gets turned into luxury housing.
While there, they’re interrupted by a group of teenagers who act like complete thugs, led by the boorish Brett (Jack O’Connell). When Steve asks them to turn their music down, they decide to pick him and Jenny as targets for their silly games, which culminates in Steve’s car being stolen. Following this, Steve gets into a small skirmish with Brett and accidentally kills his dog. From here, the gang of hoodlums reveal their nastier side, and Brett’s fury turns into murderous intentions towards Steve and Jenny. The happy couple are then hunted down by the gang of hoodlums, hell bent on revenge under Brett’s murderous intentions.
What’s interesting about Eden Lake is that it’s quite an unconventional horror movie without ever drawing attention to that fact. We’re introduced to the villains early on, and the film gives equal weight to the murderous teens as much as it does the two leads, as well as providing a lot of interaction between Brett and his gang that says a lot about the nature of power in a group like this.
While it’s very much a horror/thriller, it says a lot about the youth of today and how much allowance is made for them. It’s perhaps an alarmist and speculative tale at heart about kids out of control, but it plays very close to the bone, seeing how easy it is for a group of kids who play by their own rules to then dispense with the other rules that most live by. It’s also strikingly accurate in portraying the bravado and obnoxious egos of these kids, and how quickly their petty thuggery can turn into blind rage, which can completely overtake them; anyone familiar with the ASBO or bogan archetypes of society will see this as incredibly accurate.
It’s also stunningly well acted from all corners, and amazingly tragic. I won’t spoil the ending here, except to say that it’s rare for a film to so perfectly put you in the mindset of a character and how they’re feeling, and as the film closed, part of me wanted to cry while the rest of me was raging at the injustice of it all. It’s a fitting end to the film that doesn’t cheat its audience, but is undeniably powerful and tragic, and definitely a cut above the “torture porn” moniker some have dismissed the film under.
It’s not one for the squeamish, and most certainly deserves it’s R18+ rating, but if you’re after a well-acted, well-made (the cinematography is beautiful) and slightly unusual but ultimately powerful horror film, then Eden Lake is well worth a look.
I recommend avoiding the trailers for the movie as they make it look very average.