5 March 2010 | cliodhna2
The most scary thing - people have watched it
Set in the present day, Eden Lake is the name of a remote lake in Southern England. It is the location Jenny (Kelly Reilly) and Steve (Michael Fassbender) have chosen for a romantic weekend away camping. They arrive, setup and a lovely weekend begins. So far, so good.
However, it doesn't last long. When a group of feral teenagers turn up, things very quickly go very wrong. Annoyed by their anti-social behaviour, Steve challenges them, and the place they have chosen for their romantic dream becomes a hideous nightmare. Just so you know, what happens next is:
The dog belonging to the gang leader is stabbed and bleeds to death. The gang turns on Steve and Jenny, captures them and ties Steve's hands together with barbed wire. We see this in close up. He's stabbed four times by different members of the gang, and we see close ups of his wounds. Later he's set alight - although at this point it's not clear if he's alive or dead. It is clear that the youngest member of the gang, a boy around 10 years old is burnt alive. He's doused in petrol, a tyre is thrown over his head and he's set alight. We don't see him burning, but his screams can be heard. Another child is stabbed in the neck and bleeds to death. And there can be no doubt that Jenny's foot is impaled completely as she runs and steps on a spike on the ground.
If this is the kind of stuff that floats you boat, then you'll love Eden Lake.
From a purely cinematic point of view this film is excellent. The plot is taught and compelling, the acting (from the mainly teenage cast) superb, the message brutal and clear. In contrast to the vast majority of horror movies, there are very few but-nobody-really-does-that moments. And that is the major problem I have with it. It is so realistic that I find it difficult to see how it can classed as a horror film. I'd call it a documentary.
The English seem to excel in films that aim to show British life without any gloss. At one end of the spectrum, Ken Loach uses it for comic effect. At the other end, films such as 'The Football Factory' (2004) and 'This is England' (2006) are less easy to stomach. Like them, Eden Lake, is an accurate commentary on contemporary British society. However, the graphic violence puts this film almost in a class of its own. Although there is one film like it - 'A Clockwork Orange'.
Apparently Miriam Karlin (Catlady) defended 'A Clockwork Orange', by saying that no normal human being would be influenced by it. And she's right. No normal person would be influenced by it. So I guess we don't need to worry about the influence it had on the abnormal human beings who carried out the copycat crimes where normal people were killed. Fast forward forty years to Eden Lake. Did we learn nothing?
Eden Lake is rated 18 (adults only) in the UK by the BBFC (British Board of Film Censors) for its violence. I would have banned it, except that would only turn it into a cult classic. I'm not going to rate it at all. Like 'A Clockwork Orange' it should never have been made in the first place.