BluRay/DVD Reviews

EDEN LAKE

By • Mar 1st, 2009 •

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One of many horror films released by the Weinstein’s genre-based film company, Dimension Extreme, and they’re doing some really great things with these titles–some originally produced, some purchased from foreign markets. These are titles that will never see the darkness of a major cinema in my part of the country and that really is a shame, especially with this particular film coming in from the UK.

James Watkins has a history with these kinds of movies, having written the scripts to MY LITTLE EYE and GONE over the past decade. He’s recently secured a deal to help construct the screenplay for the eagerly anticipated sequel to THE DESCENT, which should allow him even greater exposure here in the United States. In his directorial debut, Watkins has crafted a fine looking horror/revenge picture that takes full advantage of its locations that unfold in natural daylight. The result is vivid, bright colors surrounded by deep wilderness that helps the viewer relate to the main characters’ confusion as they fight for survival from the brutality that is occurring all around them. These are films that were all over the place in the seventies and continued to be rediscovered throughout the eighties by virtue of home video. It’s a premise where the lead characters are terrorized by a group of malevolent strangers. Films like: LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE or DELIVERANCE, where the only element that technically allows it to be categorized in the horror genre is the film’s cruel, realistic violence and the grim possibilities that would arise for everyday people thrown into this predicament in real life. As a general rule, these films typically provide some of the most shocking and despicable villains in the history of moving pictures.

The title EDEN LAKE refers to a gated community that is under construction near a flooded quarry. Jenny and Steve travel to the location for a short holiday, where Steve has plans to propose. Upon arriving, the young couple has one bad encounter after another with Brett and his gang of detestable teenagers. Steve takes a stand against the gang and, as a result, Brett steals his Jeep, wallet and cell phones. While demanding the return of these items, Steve accidentally kills Brett’s vicious pet Rottweiler. Brett proceeds to peer-pressure the remainder of his gang into cruel acts of hostility against the couple, and a determined game of cat-and-mouse develops. The actions of the central characters escalate to the point where violence is the only solution to both parties involved.

The two leads, Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender, are talented and instantly likable. Kelly Reilly will undoubtedly be compared to another UK horror heroine, Shauna Macdonald of THE DESCENT, due entirely to being covered head to toe with the remnants of the most disgusting dumpster in Europe. Jack O’ Connell is despicable as Brett and will have viewers cringing every time the film is dedicated to his appearance. I feel that James Watkins is a talent to keep an eye on, both as a writer and a director. His script is virtually flawless and his courageous decision to resolve the film in ways you really don’t expect, helps make this title stand out as unique entertainment born out of a previously used idea. His new talents as a director are flexed to the fullest with his ability to center and sustain the action of the chase from beginning to end.

I remember a time in the UK when movies like this couldn’t even be shown in that country–much less get made. They were called “Video Nasties” and I have to admit that there has never been a greater collaboration of two words to take on a whole new meaning since the creation of language. “Video Nasty” is just fun to say. It’s simple and direct. It’s brilliant and comical. In this country we get unimaginative and lazy descriptions such as “gorenography” or “torture porn,” two sub-genre metaphors that make me literally squirm and grind my teeth every time I hear them articulated. EDEN LAKE is what’s great about the possibilities of direct-to-DVD fare. It’s the best horror title released from the UK last year and, one can only hope, will help revive and preserve the term “Video Nasty.”

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One Response »

  1. Bryan

    wonderful review…makes me what to rush out and get this on DVD…..you are the man!

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