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Feature


Jenny (Kelly Reilly) and Steve (Michael Fassbender) are taking a break one sunny weekend. They head off to a flooded quarry that goes by the name of Eden Lake. It’s off the beaten track and closed as it’s soon to be developed into housing. They can be alone, away from the crowds and more importantly it’ll give Steve the chance to propose to Jenny in an idyllic romantic location. That is until they have some visitors.

 Eden Lake
Now, knowing this is a thriller/horror, in the woods, next to lake, you’d be forgiven for expecting one of the following: werewolves, psychos with machetes, mountain folk, mutated freaks... On all counts you’d be wrong. Eden Lake brings us a new breed of horror, one that is quite literally on your doorstop (or outside your local shop at least) - teenagers (queue the sinister music).

What starts out as a fairly normal, 'turn the music down' stand-off, escalates into a series of worst case scenarios that play out in the back of any reasonable adults mind when they approach or are approached by a group of spitting, swearing, texting, narky teenagers. These kids have an angry dog, these kids have knives, these kids love filming sick shit on mobile phones and these kids come from bad families.

Now the bad family bit is the initial stumbling block in what could have been a flying start. There’s a ridiculous bit of plot development where Steve happens upon the house of the kids who burst his tyres and rather than knocking on the door to have a go at their parents, he goes round the back, lets himself in and then realizes that he’s trapped upstairs when angry drunk dad arrives home. It was a scene that was there to set up these kids’ home lives but damn, it was heavy handed and was Eden Lake's first step into being a movie rather than a genuine play on every day fears.

 Eden Lake
After that we get back to the terror. Jenny and Steve have another more violent face off with the kids and haphazardly kill their dog. Head teenager isn’t pleased with that and it’s time to start the chasing through the woods. From here on in it’s a mixed bag of effectiveness. Some of it is incredibly tense, realistic and outright scary. Rocks being thrown at the adults in their car as they are trapped on a verge, teenagers playing with knifes and goading each other on for the mobile phone camera, having a nasty version of the group BMX chase from E.T. and playing heavily on the sheer brutal mentality of 'we’ve come this far, we have to finish it or they’ll go to the cops'. It’s everything and more that the media highlights as the problem with teenagers.

On the flip side of that, Eden Lake is a movie, and a horror movie at that. So for what could have been a realistic, atmospheric and simple affair, begins slipping into the age old clichés of the killer gang in the woods. As the movie progressed I believed less and less in the depiction of the teenagers - especially lead teen, Brett. He felt too organized, too savvy, and too clichéd to keep the sense of realism alive. Those around him seemed to play it more subtle, being conflicted over their actions and dealing with the situation in a kid out of their depth way but that still didn’t save the overall sense of them being just a stereotypical angry mob chasing down another stereotype victim in a movie.

 Eden Lake
Also, the horror curveballs that just kept being thrown drove me more and more out of the situation at hand. Having Jenny get away only to put her foot on a spike was an effective bit of stomach turning film making, but other than slowing her down, the movie just didn’t need it. Same goes for the fact that Jenny managed to get away many a time and run for what seemed like ages only to have a teenager moments behind her every second of the way. By the movie's last half hour this really began to wear me down and by twenty minutes to the end this no longer felt like an exercise in realistic horror, but just out for the scares and brutal situations.

As the movie winds down and we go through one too many unfortunate twists for Jenny, as well as a Hostel-esq hit and run, I have to say that, in the end, Eden Lake managed to pull me back in with its closing scene. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that The Mist wasn’t the only bleak as all hell ending that 2008 delivered. Eden Lake manages to hold its own in the 'ahhhhh shit' sucker punch to the gut ending and even though I don’t think it saved the movie completely it certainly ensured that I’ll never ever go to lake on a weekend break and if I did I ain’t trusting or talking to anyone. Teenager or otherwise.

 Eden Lake

Video


When Eden Lake is bathed in sunlight and the green foliage glows an ultra-natural green - it looks great. Natural, bright, warm and like an idyllic summers day should look in glorious HD. When it’s dusk or night though, it’s a different story. The odd bit of clever lighting to sell the image just isn't enough to hide the blandness of the darker image.

Generally textures aren’t that great on skin, despite looking okay on the trees and plants. Detail is shown off in some of the gorier moments even if it doesn’t really call attention to itself.

Eden Lake hasn’t got a bad transfer overall, it’s just not one that does too much to continually impress.

Audio


There’s not really that much going on. The score is tonal with hints of musical cues, the surrounds are barely used and this is all very much in the centre speaker.

 Eden Lake
Dialogue is mostly clear, with the odd muffled teen banter and there’s the odd flourish of sheer power to make you jump but it’s all to enhance the short sharp scares rather than on a level that shows off the audio system.

Extras
The extra features essentially consist of a whole lot of interviews with director James Watkins (08:38) Kelly Reilly (07:47), Michael Fassbender (04:57), Thomas Turgoose, who plays Cooper (04:38), and producer Christian Colson (06:49). They are all basically asked the same set of questions and many of the answers get quite repetitive. Telling us about how the movie was put together before the big hoo-ha over ‘hoodies’ in the papers, how Kelly Reilly is a great actress (which I totally agree with judged on much of the performance in Eden Lake) and how it wasn’t the warmest of summers to film in and things like that.

There’s another Q&A with James Watkins (16:17) which covers a lot of this again but goes into a bit more detail and a quick ‘Behind the Scenes’ (05:50) montage which is a lot of raw footage from the shoot.

Besides all that you get 4 ‘TV Spots’ (01:08), the ‘Theatrical Trailer’ (01:48) and the ‘Extreme Trailer’ (02:05). So all in all not too much in the way of depth but lots of talking.

 Eden Lake

Overall


Eden Lake isn’t the movie I thought it was going to be. Many a friend has said that they couldn’t get this one off their minds for days after seeing it and I thought we might finally see a horror/thriller that ditches the age old over-used events that come when characters go off the beaten track. We don’t.

It’s all much the same stuff you’d expect from many a horror gone by and sadly outside of the initial terrifying use of a much media fuelled fear of gangs of youths and an ending that is effectively chilling, this is just another one of those trips to the woods that most '18' certificate movies offer up nowadays.

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.


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