Eden Lake (2008)

An unforgettable weekend.
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Eden Lake - An unforgettable weekend.

Eden Lake is a disturbing British horror movie utilising the nations current fascination with youth violence to provide horror based on the present hysteria being caused by British sensationalist media. With the tabloid obsession with knife crime, gang culture and "happy slapping", what better way to frighten the nations adult population that with a gang of troublesome children terrorizing a couple of grown-ups who are trying to have a relaxing vacation by the lake. The violence exhibited by the youths is brutal and shows the extremes to which the younger generation can be driven within the group when peer-pressured by an apathetic and remorseless leader. As with a lot of British horror the movie adopts a relentless dark and disturbing approach to terrorizing the viewer with a distinct emotionless viciousness and realism as the harsh and torturous vengeance is exacted on the innocent and endearing victims. The movie gets a bit gory in places but the execution of the gore causing actions and the desperation of the sufferers is what causes the real abhorrence.

Nursery teacher Jenny (Kelly Reilly) and her boyfriend Steve's (Michael Fassbender) plans for a romantic and relaxing chill-out by a remote lake is rudely interrupted by a group of unruly youths, an overactive dog and loud bursts of whatever music it is British village kids listen to nowadays when their ASBO's allow it. Deciding that a group of bullies will not cock-block his romantic plans, Steve pitches his tent and prepares to settle down for an evening with his beloved.

The vacation goes from bad to worse with spoiled supplies, a tyre puncture, a stolen beach bag, a stolen car and a knife scuffle with delinquents where Steve mistakenly puts an end to the life of the posse's treasured four-legged friend. Brett, the sociopathic ring-leader of the antisocial crew, decides that his poor dog must be avenged and with the rec center being closed for refurbishment the rest have nothing better to do so they pound the fleeing couple's vehicle with rocks until they crash and Steve, impaled by a tree, is taken captive whilst Jenny tries to flee.

The kids tie Steve up with barbed wire and take it in turns to cut him but soon get bored (I blame video games for their short attention span) and go on the hunt for Jenny. After a tormenting cycle of escape-capture-escape Jenny quite literally crashes a local neighbourhood party but soon realizes that bad apples don't fall far from the tree.

The ending of Eden Lake suddenly takes on a much more traditional horror development in a manner reminiscent of when May suddenly becomes a slasher or Maniac becomes a zombie flick or when 2000 Maniacs become supernatural. The viewer is propelled into a world where the British equivalent of backwater hillbillies protect their evil little kids from the consequences of their actions, the lack of retribution leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the watcher as the final disturbing scene delivers one last shock to eliminate all hope of a righteous outcome. A common theme in horror is to use children as protagonists in order to make the horror seem so much more iniquitous and, in most cases, the theme works. Eden Lake is an evil and despair inspiring work of art guaranteed to emotionally disturb those who see it, preying on current cultural fears to make a truly unfeigned and disturbing exploitation flick.
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