Eden Lake (2008): REVIEWED by BRYAN SCHUESSLER
James Watkins directed a nasty little gem! If you are one that thinks children can do no serious wrong and “boys will be boys…“, Eden Lake (2008) takes those theories and shoves them down your throat and out your ass! This film was a fresh look at how nasty and mean kids who have no adult supervision truly can get. It also takes peer pressure to a whole new level.
The plot of the film seems innocent enough, as most horror films usually begin, a man and his girlfriend decide to take a nice romantic trip up to a secluded remote “lake” secluded by woods for a little getaway. Unfortunately, a small gang of unruly youths happen to come to the lake and camp their posse of 5 or 6 boys, a girl, and a mean Rottweiler not even 50 feet away. They start blasting atrocious “gangster rap” and cursing up a storm, being as obnoxious as young kids can be.
Michael Fassbender (Steve) and his girlfriend Kelly Reilly (Jenny) just ignore them at first, but Steve just can’t let it go after they punked him out the first time he went to try to ask them to quiet down a bit. When the kids leave and Steve and Jenny think the worst is over, they flatten their tire with a bottle laid behind it. That is enough for Steve to go on a personal vendetta to report this to their parents.
All the while I am sitting here watching this film thinking these kids need to get their teeth kicked in. Due to my real-life experience working with kids with behavioral disorders, I knew all too well that kids like this do exist and are very real. They have that “Fuck you and everyone else around you” attitude and usually getting their attention by kicking the shit out of them or scaring the shit out of them sometimes is the only thing one can do to wake the unruly youths up. The first 45 minutes of the film I was yelling at the screen for the lead actor, Fassbender, to kick the fucking shit outta them. James Watkins, also the writer on the film, did not appease my wishes. The film was well directed, written, extremely realistic and compelling. I still ended up being thoroughly angry and wanting justice to be sought out.
Jack O’Connell (Brett) and Thomas Turgoose (Cooper) I recognized from Shane Meadows’ This Is England, another story of youth grossly misdirected. I think the young actors and actress did a phenomenal job playing the vile little bastards and at times this film was very difficult to watch, especially when one thinks of how many times they should have either just called the police and leave, or decide to go Rambo on these little shits and arm themselves and prepare to sneak up on them and dole out their own brand of justice. This film did not give me my happy ending and left me angered. It had elements of futileness that reminded of other films involving kids getting the best of adults or just plain aggravating scenes of helplessness, such as the French production Them, The Last House on the Left, I Spit on Your Grave, The Strangers, Wolf Creek, etc… All slasher-esque films pitted in everyday situations, such as Eden Lake.
Some of the aforementioned films dished out their own brand of justice at the end, and some did not. The bad guy needs to get it in the end for me. Even if the bad guy turns into the good guy in my book, he needs to get it. This film did not fulfill that quota completely. One word of advice, do not watch this film with your kids. It may give them some pointers on how to ruin an adults life. Permanently.