Thursday, January 15, 2009

Eden Lake


When outnumbered, move away. Split. Run.

That's the golden rule when confronted by a gang of hooligans, or in the first place, not to kick start any interaction for that matter. Not that one’s a coward, but the consequences and the hassle thereafter are never worth it. Swallow that pride and move away, because there’s absolutely no shame in doing so. But I guess should one decide to take some action, to never take them on as a group, because crazed peer pressure to belong gives some intense mental strength that clouts morals. Unity is strength, and taking them on individually presents a much better chance at survival.

Eden Lake refers to an idyllic scenic though unused quarry area that Steve (Michael Fassbender) brings his girlfriend Jenny (Kelly Reilly) to, in the hope that during their undisturbed stay away from the hustle and bustle, he can pop the question on bended knee and diamond ring. Things don’t go according to plan because of a group of local ruffians who disturb their serene environment, and blame should go to the couple as well for unnecessarily stirring up the hornet’s nest.

Like The Strangers, the couple is (deliberately by their own choosing) alone and kept isolated from the outside world by their perpetrators. For something that should be a romantic outing, it degenerated quickly into petty tit-for-tat action-reaction, before going down the slippery slope into the chasm of what nightmares are made of. The couple is left to fend for themselves, and this is where it goes into some squeamish territory that’s not for the faint-hearted.

However, it’s not like the usual Hollywood run of the mill horror flick, where the gorier it is the better. It’s a nice departure thanks to writer-director James Watkins in not going over the top and pile on the gratuitous moments of blood and gore, but to build it up slowly for best results and impact. Sure there’s plenty of violence, but the true horror here actually lies in the fact that these heinous crimes are conducted by teens who cannot comprehend the severity of their actions, and worse, the power of peer pressure in compromising any human decency left in them. It takes a sick mind too to be able to order the filming of their act as a form of collateral to keep everyone’s mouths shut.

It also points to the lack of quality parental upbringing, though it generally made a sweeping statement that rubbish parents give rise to rubbish offspring, given it’s in their genes. But alas most of us are for the horror elements and not moral lessons, and like most horror flicks, the characters here do make the wrong moves so much so that you’d like to ask if they too are aware of the obvious common sense pitfalls - Watkins story does lapse into the occasional cliché moment and some none too subtle development dealing with trust.

Unfortunately this film was censored at one point, though I believe it wasn’t anything substantial to the entire plot. It’s a cautionary tale and a perfect reminder to hot headed folks out there that one should never take on odds against your favour, especially when outnumbered, to avoid secluded places, and to know when to cut your losses and make a run for it!

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