The Screen Room
Eden Lake (2008)
Despite suspecting that it wasn’t going to end well - not to mention my aversion to British films for reasons I’ve stated in the past, last week I decided to watch a movie I’ve been curious about for years.
Eden Lake (2008)
If you haven’t seen it, it’s a brutal British horror/thriller written and directed by James Watkins (The Woman in Black), starring Michael Fassbender (Prometheus), Kelly Reilly (Yellowstone) and Jack O'Connell (Harry Brown) among others.
This is what it’s about according to the internet:
“When a young couple go to a remote wooded lake for a romantic getaway, their quiet weekend is shattered by an aggressive group of local youths. Rowdiness quickly turns to rage as the teens terrorize the couple in unimaginable ways, and a weekend outing becomes a bloody battle for survival.”
Writing this post I noticed that a lot of the films I’ve been watching recently were all released around the same time. It’s pure coincidence, but maybe on a subconscious level I’m craving those original, unapologetic movies we rarely get these days.
This is definitely unapologetic and it actually reminded me of a film called Funny Games (2007) which was a remake of the 1997 film of the same name. Although the premise is quite different, both movies have the same oppressive tone and are about an idyllic getaway turning into a living nightmare. They also both involve a lake, graphic violence and torture.
The film is essentially about the divide between classes. Michael Fassbender and Kelly Reilly’s characters represent the initially unlikeable “middle class yuppies”, while the young, vicious, hoody-wearing “chavs” represent the lower/working class. In fact as much as I’m not a big fan of social commentary in movies, this film does a really effective job of highlighting the social decay of the time that came to be dubbed “Broken Britain”.
I’ll warn you now, this isn’t a feel good film, nor is it one for people who don’t like gratuitous violence. I actually found some scenes hard to watch and even watched a couple through slightly parted fingers.
It’s not exactly Saw (2004) or Hostel (2005) but the brutality in which the violence is delivered is both graphic and shocking due to extremely convincing performances from everyone involved.
I’ve said before that one of the reasons I’m not a huge fan of British films is because of how gritty and realistic they often are. When I watch a movie I generally like to be taken away from what I know exists outside my own front door. This film is a shocking and scary reminder of what could potentially be lurking out there should you be unlucky enough to encounter it.
The movie (unlike me) doesn’t waste much time getting to the point, and right from the beginning there’s a tension that only gets worse as the story progresses.
I had a rough idea where things were headed, and because of that I felt a building sense of dread even before anything kicked off. And when it did, I’m not sure I was prepared for just how real the whole thing felt. It’s harrowing! At just under the 30 minute mark the film rapidly shifts in tone, and what comes next is a relentlessly distressing cinematic experience!
As I said before the performances are superb! Particularly from Michael Fassbender and the head thug played by Jack O'Connell. I genuinely rooted for the two protagonists and felt absolute hatred and contempt for every member of the gang they have the misfortune to tangle with.
It’s rare that I watch a film that makes me feel quite like I did watching this movie.
With Halloween finally upon us and no doubt a few horror films being watched over the next few days, I’d highly recommend adding this to your list. It’s a stressful, uncomfortable watch and not satisfying in any way, but it’s terrifying in a frighteningly realistic way and I’ve found myself thinking about it ever since.
Friendly tip: You might want to leave yourself enough time to watch something a little more uplifting once it’s finished…
Seen it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.