Friday, August 28, 2009

Down by the lake

The UK might not strike anyone as the typical producer of horror flicks, a long history of dark dungeons and crazy for cocoa puffs nobility or bleak, uninhibited moors where no-one will hear you scream nonwithstanding. However, you will find that the Brits have managed to produce some quite snappy horror in their time, all the way from Ramsey Campbell, taking Lovecraftian ideas and transplanting them to England, leaving the islands with quite a few flailing tentacles to show for it, to modern horror flicks describing such diverse elements and settings as: Werewolves in major cities, Zombies (and not zombies) in major cities, crazy women under the earth, werewolves in the wild, and now, killer chavs
Yup, enter Eden Lake. In this tale of terror, we follow Steve and Jenny as they go to the secluded titular lake to enjoy some time together. Of course, anyone who's seen any kind of horror flick other than the summer camp teenie slashers knows that much bloodshed is yet to follow. Comparisons to The Strangers do come to mind, but I digress. So, our two lovebirds are harrassed by some local punks. Tension is on the rise between the main character and said group, and things does not get better when the chavs steal the couples car. In most stories you can set a cut-off point, where the heroes could still escape and be no worse off, hadn't it been for some character flaw. This holds doubly true in horror movies. In Eden Lake, this is the moment when they find the car keys, and thus are able to go home but Steve insists on trying to retrieve his cellphone from the chavs as well. Might not be too unreasonable, but if he had been the least bit of genre savvy, he'd be outta there, plust of course, there's the "death by materialism"-rule that seems to exist in a lot of films, horror and otherwise.

I won't spoil too much past this point, but it must be mentioned, the ending is just brutal. In much of horror, the ending is either a twist ending to leave your head spinning, a gentle denounment to lull you back into your sense of probably false security, or a half-assed sequel hook that's thrown in last minute about as subtly as a derailed train. In Eden Lake, the ending is cruel, brutal, and downright upsetting. You get used to a lot of cruel and unjust endings when you're into horror movies, despite the prevailing notion that there's some kind of twisted conservative justice operating behind the scenes, but the ending to Eden Lake, I wouldn't say it was entirely unexpected, it was kind of set up as a possibility, but predictability did nothing to soften the impact of this sledgehammer to the pathos.

Eden Lake is kind of walking a tightrope on the line of horror and thriller, again much like The Strangers, but due to its usage of fairly standard horror conventions, I choose to call it more of a horror movie. That's not to say there's any supernatural or almost-supernatural elements in play here, no, the gritty realism is kind of what makes it so intense.

Just to sum it up, Eden Lake isn't what I'd show to my friends to have a good time with many scares and adrenalin for all, unless my friends were as weird as me, which only some of them are. But yeah. Eden Lake, intense.

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