Eden Lake is a nasty horror film about a couple camping in a remote location who manage to incur the wrath of a group of local chavs. It is tense, well directed and brutally violent. Set in England this reminded me of a typical hillbilly movie.
The action opens with Steve and Jenny driving out of the city to a remote lake that Steve knows about. They are aiming for a weekend of relaxing and unknown to Jenny Steve also intends to propose. As they arrive in the local village a gang of youths noisily cycle past. Their first brush with the gang that will later torment them is relatively innocuous. Later at the lake they see the youths again and Steve makes the classic mistake of asking them to turn down their music. They have now caught the unwelcome attention of some nasty chavs (for non English readers chavs are poorly educated thugs who like to cause trouble).
The premise is a decent one and the action is relatively believable up until Steve reveals himself to be the biggest moron in the world by provoking things further. The situation escalates until the gang are bullied into taking action by their malicious leader Brett. Things turn rapidly violent and bloody as they torture Steve and chase Jenny down through the forest.
James Watkins wrote and directed this and the script is convincing. The pacing is tight and the direction creates a good level of tension. It also confounded expectations although there were a couple of obvious twists. It was in effect a very good translation or localisation of a classic hillbilly film format. People in a remote place, nasty locals, things get out of hand, violent incident sparks psychotic hunt, torture and kill.
The cast were very good. Stand out performance was probably Kelly Reilly as Jenny. Jack O' Connell was extremely loathsome as Brett, Tara Ellis was effortlessly convincing as the only female chav in the group and Thomas Turgoose was good as the scared reluctant kid.
The opening radio broadcast about the youth running rampant in Britain hints at an attempt to cash in on the whole fear of hoodie gangs and ASBO kids. There was definitely a hint of middle class terror at the working class on display here and parts of the story spilled into ridiculous. I would still argue that Eden Lake owes more to Deliverance than it does to the topical fears over youth violence or class war.
Eden Lake is a good thriller and easily horrible enough to be described as a horror film. It has a real mean spirit about it which is often the case with this kind of film. All hope is cruelly snuffed out in pursuit of the depressingly gritty realism. Nasty is a good descriptive word for it. Eden Lake is nasty.Short Review
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