Eden Lake

Dir: James Watkins, 2008



Reflection of youths today or an eltist’s view of  contemporary Britain?

School teacher Jenny (Kelly Reilly) and her boyfriend, Steve (Michael Fassbender), take a trip to a secluded lake in the country.

While there, they are targeted by a gang of thugs and the couple must find a way out or lose their lives.

This film is the ruling class’s wet dream. Proof that all the kids of today are violent “chavs”.

They’re not, of course, but that’s the skewed view of Telegraph and Daily (Hate) Mail /Fail readers.

What Eden Lake boils down to is that the working class are uneducated and violent and the middle class are the cream of society.

It’s an unoriginal film that features every cliche from the book.

To start with it’s got middle class people doing middle class things, while dressed in middle class clothes and driving middle class cars like Land Rivers.

The baddies are all working class, talk working class (ie. indecipherable chatter, punctuated by expletives and colloquialisms), wear hoodies and tracksuit bottoms with trainers and have a Rottweiler dog that snarls and barks.

It’s completely by the numbers filmmaking, inspired by biased reporting.

We can’t feel for Jenny or Steve because they do some of the most stupidest things.

Allow me to offer a couple of instances:

Steve finds the house of one of the thugs so he does what any normal person would do. He just walks into it and goes snooping.

Jenny has a phone. To call the police she connects to Steve’s phone via Bluetooth to call them while he’s being tortured and she knows they have his phone, alerting the thugs.

It’s an incredibly frustrating film because of this inane behaviour.

As a horror, nothing works. There’s plenty of sadism, but no scares or fear.

Sadism in a film doesn’t bother me in the slightest. The Saw films have plenty of it and it works.

However, there is some in this that feels forced as though Watkins put it in just to shock.

Sadism for sadism’s sake is the hallmark of an exploitation film, such as August Underground or Murder Set Pieces. Watkins’s film is certainly not exploitation, it’s just misguided.

What was the point in burning the little boy to death? It doesn’t add anything but revulsion and we have plenty of that, already.

We hate the gang. We hate them from the moment we first see them.

It’s an entirely cynical film without any glimmer of redemption or satisfactory recompense.

You kind of get the feeling that the director run out of stuff to fill the running time so he pads it with uninteresting material that, further, bogs the movie down.

Eden Lake could, certainly, have benefited from being a bit faster paced and got to the horror much quicker. As it is, the first half hour just trudges along.

It’s all familiar territory, with previous woods based films stamped on it.

Deliverance and The Last House on the Left resonate loudly throughout the film. Even the T.V. series The League of Gentlemen can be found.

There’s a very amateurish feel layered on this, with glaring goofs, inconsistencies and implausibilities littered from start to finish.

A missed opportunity that could have been so much more.


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