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#31DaysofHorror 2018 Film Film Reviews

‘Eden Lake’ | Film Review In the country.

Eden Lake Review
3.5

Summary

If you can stomach a look at awful adolescents and subsequent torture through a harsh microscope then Eden Lake is a film you need to watch. It’s a tough sit, but incredibly effective.

Ten years ago, this gritty and muddy British horror was released and the impact of the story is still as shocking and damning as ever. Eden Lake might not be a horror film through and through, as there’s no ghosts or masked serial killers to speak of, but the contents of the plot feel deadly real and that’s where the true horror lies.

School teacher Jenny (Kelly Reilly) and her boyfriend Steve (Michael Fassbender) are on a weekend trip to the countryside and a stunning quarry soon becoming a gated community. As the couple soak up the sun and enjoy the waters, they are increasingly disturbed by a gang of teenagers who enjoy terrorising them to the point of sadism.

I always remembered this film utilising scary real-life problems and the ending always stuck with me. The final stages of Eden Lake are incredibly dark and a character stating “we look after our own round here” rings terrifying alarm bells. The irony of Mel and Kim singing ‘”Respectable” at a grown-ups party is not lost, as the lack of respect from the majority of characters shown is deeply worrying. The scariest quality of this movie isn’t with jump-scares but instead falls at the feet of bad parenting, deniability and troubled kids, creating a bold social commentary throughout the film which tips over the edge.

It’s easy to say Eden Lake won’t be for everyone, as there is a lot of nastiness involved. Steve and Jenny are constantly antagonised by the presence of these youths; kids with no outlet for entertainment and no parental care, which leads them to create their own fun in extreme ways. Eden Lake definitely does not shy away from blood and torture, and it feels like a never-ending intimidation game that becomes a horrible ordeal to get through… in the best possible way, though.

The setting of the film, a secluded strip of woods and leaf-littered floors, is a perfect location for the torment to play out. It lets the teenagers run wild and show off this culture of bad kids that is evident in broken Britain. There’s plenty of opportunity within the landscape of the quarry and surrounding woods for shadowy danger, natural obstacles and visceral pain, which is the pre-Emily Blunt gasp-out-loud impaled foot moment. The adult pair face a trial of nightmarish proportions and it’s a squeamish, tough watch, but an effective brutal look at the negative side of bored kids.

Kelly Reilly really goes through the ringer here, and back again. As the leading lady, she becomes a great force of rising anger and determination as her distress continues. Jack O’Connell is superb and despicable as this twisted hoodlum going down a path of aggression and Thomas Turgoose does well in showing the impressionable personality of people; his descent into culpability effectively shown through the ringleader bullying of O’Connell’s Brett.

If you can stomach a look at awful adolescents and subsequent torture through a harsh microscope then Eden Lake is a film you need to watch. It’s a tough sit, but incredibly effective.


This review is part of our #31DaysofHorror feature which is running all throughout October. Check out the other entries.
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