While watching the movie, I was reminded of Funny Games *, Timber Falls, Vacancy, The Strangers, and Wrong Turn. Like these movies, it employs the realistic thriller method of making the audience feel they are watching something that could really happen. It does a remarkable job making you care for the main characters before pulling them (and you) into a living nightmare.
After watching the movie, I spoke to a British friend of mine about it, and he brought it to my attention that Eden Lake plays off of a very real and terrifying problem in the UK. Apparently, these "little wankers," as he referred to the kids, are running amok over there, fearlessly tormenting people. He went on to say that three people were stabbed by these hoodlums in his hometown yesterday. Had I been aware of all this beforehand, the movie might have affected me differently.
Typical Camping Misadventure Format:
- Attractive, amiable couple decides to get away for a weekend of camping/hiking.
- Boyfriend brings engagement ring along with the intention of popping the question.
- Group of inbreeds, rednecks, kids in this case, cross paths with the good-natured couple and start trouble.
- Girlfriend is made uncomfortable, usually by being ogled.
- Boyfriend bucks up to defend girlfriend and sets the escalating conflict into motion.
- One of the two is captured (in this case, the boyfriend).
- In the significant other's attempt to rescue the captive, he/she is fooled by the innocent character from the beginning of the movie--usually someone who has been ostracized by the captors--and lured into a setup.
- Boyfriend and girlfriend are both taken prisoner.
Once steps 1-8 are executed, Eden Lake delivers an ending similar to Funny Games and The Strangers. After over an hour of the movie spent watching the couple narrowly escape their captors again and again, neither the boyfriend nor the girlfriend make it. In Funny Games, we watch as the girlfriend--wife, actually--is carelessly discarded. Similarly, in Eden Lake, we watch as the girlfriend is taken into a bathroom and the details of her doom are left to our imagination. The point is obviously to invoke the horror of realizing that this could easily happen to you, and you might not live through it, which is more realistic in my opinion.
The only scene that really stuck with me was when each kid in the group was forced to stab ("take a dig at") the boyfriend. The youngest of the group nervously shoves a box cutter into the boyfriend's mouth and aimlessly cuts around. Other than that, everything is fairly tame besides a few graphic wounds--again, this correlates with the intent of making the hell they're in seem realistic.
The British delinquents used as the antagonists pull off a stunning performance despite my aforementioned ignorance (paragraph 3). I found myself wondering what I would do in that situation, which is exactly what James Watkins wanted (ref: The Making of Eden Lake). Yet again, the movie plays off of the cliché pack leader who is deeply troubled and constantly forces the rest of the group to go farther than they want to. Eventually, the leader goes too far with the shenanigans and the group begins to turn away from him. The movie is careful to point out that the children are simply following in their parents' footsteps, however.
So, yeah, the movie toys with you unmercifully, offering nothing but false hope until a grim ending. I still recommend it regardless of similarities to other realistic thrillers.
* It should be noted that Funny Games has a completely different tone than Eden Lake, even though I use it multiple times to point out similarities. If you haven't seen it, you need to stop reading this pitiful review and rent/buy/borrow/illegally download it RIGHT NOW!
Dave Matthews Band - "The Stone"
The Black Dahlia Murder - "Deathmask Divine"
Pink Floyd - "Learning To Fly"
Primus - "Glass Sandwich"
Bad Brains - "She's Calling You"
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