Saturday, November 8, 2008

Review - Eden Lake

A british couple head out a secluded lake in England for the weekend. The romantic couple quickly realize that they aren't the only people at the isolated lake. A group of English hooligan teens are also spending time at the lake and begin to torment the vacationing couple. Over the course of the weekend the teens become more and more vicious and the outcome becomes increasingly savage to the companions.

Written and directed by James Watkins, Eden Lake is a fierce tale of a young couple who are confronted with a terrifying predicament in a very desolate location. James Watkins sets a great tone with his directorial debut in Eden Lake and excels in keeping the aggressive and frantic mood rolling throughout. The film has a hostile pace that keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat in antcipation of what will happen next. Watkins does a good job of character development amongst the antagonistic teens and their intimidating leader.

Eden Lake follows a very typical setup, with the romantic couple getting away to what they believe to be a secluded lake but quickly finding out they are not alone and the strangers are not friendly in the slighest. Where the story shifts and excels is in the character development of the antagonists. Watkins does a impressive job of creating multi-dimensional characters that aren't just killing to kill or are some crazed maniacs escaped from an mental institution. Instead they are normal teens, who are hanging with the wrong person, a teen who seems to have a strange fascination for terror.

Eden Lake is not so much scary or horror but rather intense and suspenseful. The film sets a tone similair to the likes of Deliverance or more recently, The Strangers. Eden Lake however, does not set a eerie or haunting mood with jump scares like The Strangers. The teens do not creep around, they are in the young couple face from the get go. They do their best work confronting and tormenting the couple and do not stop until the leader of the rabid teens is satisfied.

Kelly Reilly plays Jenny and delivers a strong performance as the female lead who must fight for her life to survive the vicious attacks from the brooding teens. She doesn't play the typical horror female lead and makes decisions that seem logical, at least under the circumstances. Her character's strength through the third act is particularly intriguing and definately has you pulling for the terrorized female.

Michael Fassbender plays Steve, Jenny's boyfriend who is on the verge of asking her to marry him while away on their weekend retreat, when they are confronted by the aggressive teens. Fassbender and Reilly's roles are reversed from tradition and most of the film, Jenny feels like the stronger character. Steve is quickly caught and tormented by the teens and he delivers a worthy performance of from someone who has just been tortured.

The teens themselves are the real meat of the Eden Lake and all bring believable and effortless performances to the angst filled group. Jack O'Connell plays Brett, the leader of the teen group and he is more than tormenting in his performance. Through story development we see a window into why Brett is so violent and Watkins does a good job of setting up the convincing backstory to the overly combative teen. The rest of the teens played by Finn Atkins, James Burrows, Thomas Gill and Thomas Turgoose are also very compelling, but with one difference. They are all equally afraid of Brett, so they do as he says no matter how vicious or deadly it is. Thomas Turgoose as Cooper is the perfect example of a boy who is hanging with the wrong crowd and realizes that he is in over his head. The fear and anxiety that Turgoose portrays is flawless in Cooper once he see's where the tormenting is rapidly heading.

Eden Lake was a realist look at peer pressure while also being a suspenseful and chilling tale of what can go wrong in a isolated area. Behind the simple violent tale, comes a eye opening peek into how parents can have a dramatic effect on their children's life. Eden Lake is a terror filled ride that keeps the viewer enthralled throughout never slowing down till the bittersweet climax. The cat & mouse game Jenny and Steve endure trying to evade the teens is chill enducing and doesn't disappoint in the slightest.