Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Film Appreciation - Broken Britain

Guest contributor Douglas Paterson spends some time at Eden Lake for Film Appreciation.

Eden Lake is a 2008 British horror film, steeped in horror conventions. The film came at a time where Supernatural Horror ruled the silver screen, and this brings in a realism to the mix that makes it far more effective that any other horror film in recent memory. Like all the best films, it has something to say about society, and if you are anything like me you will be kept up at night, thinking about the world after watching this.

The plot will seem instantly familiar to anyone with even the slightest taste for horror movies - a couple taking an idyllic holiday soon become embroiled in a nightmare that leaves them fleeing for their lives.

It should be old hat. This film should not shock, or be in the slightest bit scary. We've seen countless films with countless victims fleeing through the forest. But this film is different.

The film is obviously inspired by relatively recent headlines. As a UK resident, it seems barely a day passes that we do not hear of some band of delinquents killing someone. It's becoming all too common now to hear about innocents being set on fire whilst waiting for a late night bus. Fathers, brothers, sisters and mothers being attacked at knife point. Not for money, or any personal gain on the side of the attackers. Simply for the pleasure they derive from it.

We live in a world where random acts of violence are the norm - and this film portrays that, unflinchingly.

We have become familiar with this new brand of lowlife that populates the streets. That is why this movie is effective. We know that not only could this happen, but it does happen. We are presented here with this recent breed of slime - teenagers who kill simply for a thrill. And they feel so real. They feel like the people you encounter on the street every day. They are kids, they seem harmless. But they have knives, Stanley blades and scalpels. They rejoice in the pain that they cause, and happily capture it on their camera-phones.

Another unusual element is that the majority of the scenes take place during the day. This is particularly unsettling. When watching a horror movie like this, you expect people to be safer during the day. This is relentless - these people will not stop chasing you. You are never safe.


That's why Eden Lake is an unsettling horror film, miles apart from many of the offerings we are given today. It's real. We hear about it all the time.

The fact is, this movie leaves you scared to go outside.

The movie does what it is supposed to. It will not be a film I revisit soon, even though I liked it. It's just too bleak, the horror too real. It kept me awake, and I still can't shake the feeling of dread and melancholy it brings.

Some have criticised the film for essentially being a cinematic "Daily Mail article" - designed simply to turn people against the young. This holds no water with me, I am intelligent enough to know that not every child is a wanna-be murderer - but this is happening out there, right now. It's on the news all the time. Anyone who believes this film is an indictment against youth simply has no clue what they are talking about.

It does its job. It scares you. More importantly - it leaves you thinking about the state of the world today.

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