FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

Mar 23, 2009

Eden Lake Shmeden Lake


Believe you me, sisters and brothers, I realize that I'm a bit of an outsider. My fondness for wearing my pants backwards, my penchant not to "bathe" regularly, and my unceasing devotion to Jumpin' Jack Flash leave me squarely outside what uppity jerks might refer to as "polite" "society". Truth be told, I just don't care- I'm what the experts call "a true American Original", akin to Tupperware or Jingle Jugs. Like Wolverine or Andy Rooney, I do what I please when I please, consequences be damned. Still, when I find myself a million light years out of step with what seems to be the entire horror community, it throws me for a loop. Y'alls is sa-POSED to be mah peeps!


The movie in question that's got me feeling like an outsider- and not even an Outsider who stays gold- is Eden Lake. Word of mouth about this film was great. It seemed like the whole world was touching themselves over it and I really couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Then I did, and...I don't know man. I really didn't dig it, and that really bums me out.

Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender star as Jenny and Steve, a white-bread couple who decide to take a weekend holiday at a flooded quarry-cum-lake. Shortly after they arrive, they run afoul of a group of punk-ass jerk kids. The punk-ass jerk kids continue to act punk-ass and jerky, while Steve decides he's "not going to take it". Events rapidly escalate: a dog ends up dead, Steve ends up dead, and Jenny ends up running for her life from the chav ringleader Brett (Jack O'Connell) and his homicidal bully pals.

It's all fairly standard survival horror stuff and that's all well and good, but I never found myself connecting with this film or the characters in any meaningful way. In short, I've seen other films addressing the kids are homicidal douchebags notion (eg Wilderness) that I found far more compelling than Eden Lake. I think the issue of class was meant to play a larger role here than it actually did- the kids are all the product of a violent, rough, working-class upbringing, while Jenny and Steve come rolling into the region in their Land Rover. A sign posted at Eden Lake, promising of the gated community to be built there soon, is graffitied with "fuck off yuppy cunts". Someone should tell the painter that the message would be more effective if it were written on the front of the sign, where people can see it. Perhaps having it on the back adds suspense in the sense that the audience knows what the characters don't, but it may have been more interesting if the characters willfully wandered into what's essentially hostile territory. Eh, coulda shoulda woulda.

Frankly, Jenny and Steve were so willfully stupid that I found myself simply not caring what tragedy befell them. Not that they deserved to be set upon by these psychos, but they did little to prevent it, either. From the implausible (in a pointless, drawn-out sequence, Steve breaks into the home of one of the teens and is almost caught) to the downright infuriating (Steve, pinned in place after a car crash, sends Kelly for help...Kelly promptly squats behind a tree and takes a nap) to the point where I check out (Kelly watches Steve as he's tortured, practically begging to be discovered), I rather hated them.


And I know it's a petty, personal thing, but women who sort of emulate children in their manner and their dress really set my teeth on edge. Perhaps Jenny's "innocent" bit is meant to contrast with the lengths she's driven to throughout this ordeal, I don't know. Still, the only grown woman acting like a child I want to watch is a man, and that man is Alan Rowe Kelly. If you haven't seen his turn as Beefteena in The Blood Shed, you're missing out on some real fucking magic, my friends.



The point is to talk about Eden Lake, though, right? As I said, I'm completely 100% in the minority, but I found it to be little more- or maybe even little less- than a by-the-numbers survival horror flick that didn't move me, horrify me, scare me, or thrill me in any way. Then again, I wear my pants backwards, so what do I know?

25 comments:

Tower Farm said...

Nothin' wrong with wearing your pants backwards. Kris Kross did it and if that isn't cool, I don't know what is.

Chris said...

Well done Stacie - you being an outsider is what makes your reviews so much more interesting than the automatic appreciation that seems to have greeted this film which appears to treat the working classes as savages - so once again, well done!

spazmo said...

Ahh, The Blood Shed - one of Buzz's finest moments.

Eden Lake was one of those positive word-of-mouth deals I kept getting more and more tempted to watch (and frankly, there's been bugger-all else worth seeing lately).

Thanks for sparing me the ordeal.

ragidtiga said...

I've yet to see it, but I do need to. From what I know about it, and half the reason it's been made is it's "state of the nation" aspect.

It's been classed as "horror" because of the events within the film, but to be fair, it's as much a social commentary towards the UK today. Now, feral kids running riot - it's not a new thing in any society, we know that. But Blightly has literally been blighted by kids of this type increasingly so over the last few years. This film has scared a lot of viewers over here because it is so close to home right now. Halve the violence in the film and you actually have a daily occurance on British streets. The tabloids may sensationalise a lot of stuff, but how much doesn't get reported?

I'll try and watch it soonish and get back to you,

thebonebreaker said...

I have yet to see Eden Lake, but I understand where you are coming from - I am in the minority of not going all ga-ga over Let the Right One In. . .

Ms Harker said...

I am with ya home girl! Peeps be damned, I have no desire to see this what so ever! I am tired of Gen Y delinquents on ASBO's chasing down people who are jut trying to have a nice weekend away shagging!

Ms Harker
www.musingcontinuum.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

The Strangers,Eden Lake,Ils(Them),enuff of the "terrorizing teens" movies!They ALL end the SAME!

Micah said...

You're not alone... I too was very meh on the film when I saw it a few months back. Not sure what all the hype was about...

B.E. Earl said...

Haven't heard of it, but bonus points for use of the word "chav" in your review. Well done, Stacie!

Hud said...

Jumpin' Jack Flash rules.

Joel said...

I actually quite liked it, but then I hadn't heard anything about it before I saw it so maybe thats why...

The end though just went way to over the top.

hagiblog said...

What's so messed up about this one is the extent that the teens go to. I actually found it very disturbing and wished I could reach through the screen and strangle all those little buggers!

Francis Garcia said...

Haven't seen it, but I really enjoyed Ils, and to a lesser extent The Strangers, and I've heard it compared to both. If you've seen them all, can you offer a bit of insight as to how they differ?

Corey said...

I loved Eden Lake, not because of the social commentary, but simply because it was effective. Maybe it's just because I so closely resemble the main characters right now (early 30s, recently engaged, kinda stupid), but this movie had me from the moment it started and the ending knocked the wind out of me. The Strangers affected me similarly, so I think I'm just sensitive to this subject matter. Different things scare different people tho - so I'm sorry this one didn't flip your cookie. What have you seen lately that really scared you?

Stacie Ponder said...

Francis, Eden Lake is the most straightforward of the three films in that there's no mystery as to what's going on or who the perpetrators are (as in Ils). It's also not meant to scare you in standard horror movie ways, like The Strangers. There are no masks, etc: it's all rooted in the real world, and any horror derived is more from the "man's inhumanity to man" angle.

Hope that helps!

Stacie Ponder said...

What's scared me lately? Hmm. Nothing much, really, although I enjoyed Cold Prey quite a bit. I mean, it was really just a straight-up slasher movie, but it was done well enough (not to mention shot beautifully) to make it stand out. I liked that the characters behaved fairly realistically, and they weren't all jerks.

Surprisingly enough, I enjoyed a few of this year's 8 Films To Die For, but more on that later....mwa ha ha!

Haven't really had time to watch much recently, sad to say.

kindertrauma said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kindertrauma said...

Count me in as a fan of EDEN. It's true that the two yuppies make many a foolish move but that is precisely what made this movie so frustratingly effective for me. I really appreciated the fact that the audience is denied the luxury of relief time and time again and that near the end just as you think you will be witnessing a cathartic release through retribution you are denied that as well. As depressed as this movie ultimately left me I was sort of happy that I did not have to endure yet another transformation from waif to Rambo with it's lead heroine. I think we are rather conditioned through film to believe that victory is always obtainable for those who persist but the true horror of life that is absent from many a horror film is that it is often a random crap shoot. EDEN LAKE, I think goes out of its way NOT to be a crowd pleaser and I admire it for that. I think EDEN LAKE wears it's pants inside-out!- UNK L

Gore-Gore Girl said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you - I am so sick of defending myself for hating this piece of shit movie. I'm all for everyone dying at the end of the movie, but only if they react in logical ways and *still* get sliced and diced. I have to say, I could barely contain myself when that stupid freakin woman was sat chillin, watching her boyfriend get cut up. I'm sorry but, really? I'm pretty sure gut reaction would kick in, regardless if it ultimately led to her death too.

All of the stupidity aside, though, the movie still sucked. And it fed into the conservative hysteria surrounding "the youth" in the UK - I'm not saying there isn't a problem, but come on. I'm so sick of these "kids are monsters" movies - not because kids aren't monsters (I love It's Alive!!), but because the adult characters faff about like idiots when a quick crack round the back of the head would have at least provoked some kind of hand-to-hand combat. The majority of the kids in Eden Lake were ambivalent about the whole thing anyway. God, it made me so mad...

J Giar said...

Wearing pants backwards is old hack. I've been doing it for years. Although I usually wait and wear them with my rainbow colored suspenders and kerchief. I do not however advise doing so during bouts with the flu...And thanks for saving me the precious time it wold take to watch this film. After seeing The Strangers (which was okay) and THEM (which I loved and highly recommend over Strangers, but not for "gorehounds.") I've had enough of the marauding band of juveniles premise.

Anonymous said...

I also didn't like ED - the horror parts felt tired, the characters were annoying and the social commentary was clumsy and misguided at best, but what really annoyed me (and I don't know if anyone else even noticed) was the -slight SPOILER-
"tire burning" scene, which was obviously "inspired" by similar real life crimes in South Africa and as such way out of place in a movie with antagonists that cartoonish.

The Igloo Keeper... said...

I reviewed Eden Lake in my blog today as it goes. I thought the kids were perfectly charming.

Scott Weinberg said...

Stop sorta-apologizing when your opinings go against the grain. Consarnit.

Tanya said...

I agree with your review. I wasn't as "wow"ed by this film as many horror sites were. I thought 'Ils' (Them) executed the theme of teens run amok better.
Good review, I'm curious to see what you think about 'Martyrs'.

highwayknees said...

BeefTeena?Blood Shed?! Where can we view this gem? Me thinks it is not easily distributed?