Director: James Watkins, 2008, 91′
IMDB Keywords: Lake, Young Couple, Lost In Woods, Bleeding To Death, Bicycle
Sometimes it feels like my life is just a series of stupid decisions, strung together with crippling anxiety. For example, there’s the time we went camping in Tuscany. It was probably my favourite camping holiday yet – we pitched our tent on the beach. Not ‘beside’ the beach or ‘near’ the beach. We were on the beach. The waves were breaking not ten metres from our tent. It was stunning. Beautiful in almost every way. Except I couldn’t get to sleep. I was a bit restless and thought that watching one of the movies on my iPod Touch would help lull me to sleep. And so, instead of watching something like The Jerk or Anvil, I decided it would be a great idea to watch Eden Lake, a horror film about a couple who go camping on a beach and get brutally terrorized by a bunch of ASBO kids.
See? Stupid decision. I didn’t get any sleep that night.
It’s not like it’s a flawless movie. Even horror movies have a breaking point when it comes to coincidences – the screaming victim just happens to run into a cave which just happens to be the home of the big scary monster. Eden Lake gleefully ignores this breaking point and keeps layering coincidence on top of coincidence. Towards the end, Eden Lake actually felt as if it was taking the piss. Either the filmmakers didn’t get the memo regarding the suspension of disbelief, or they’re implying that this couple are the two unluckiest people in the world.
I’ll tell you what though, they’re definitely two of the smuggest, most self-satisfied cunts in the world. And this is where the film plays a blinder.
They’re so overwhelmingly unbearable that I actually started to wish them bodily harm. It’s a horror film, so you know they’re going to suffer and so I was kind of look forward to that bit of the movie. When all the bad shit starts happening, I felt better. It’s catharsis. Establish the heel, make them suffer, and everyone goes home feeling as if everything is right with the world. Did anyone go to see House of Wax to see Paris Hilton escape unhurt? No. They paid good money to see Paris Hilton get a pole thrown through her head. It’s catharsis, and everyone (including Paris Hilton, I bet) knows it. But Eden Lake isn’t quite like that, because it doesn’t stop there. It just keeps pushing through into a new level of discomfort that few films have taken me to. The brutality is so unrelenting that it’s hard not to feel bad for hating these people. I mean, I just wanted to see them get a few cuts and scrapes. Nothing that would leave any kind of permanent scar. And the film goes so much further. It was kind of like when everyone was all “Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator who should rot in hell” and then they saw the video of his hanging and then they were all “Oh.” Eden Lake is like that. Only with less genocide.
And I don’t think that I can finish up without mentioning Jack O’Connell, who plays the leader of the ASBOs. He really is the star of the show, completely believable and terrifying. He basically plays a more sociopathic version of the character he played in Skins, which makes me think that he’s either a great actor who is in danger of being typecast as a grotty teen, or someone the police should genuinely keep an eye on.
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