I don’t remember a time when I was scared of a bunch of 12 year olds. But that’s exactly what Eden Lake did to me. This isn’t a feel good film. This isn’t a film where the good triumphs over evil. On the contrary, this is a film where the murdering 12 year old maniacs ravage a couple without no rhyme or reason. They commit some sinister atrocities on the family primarily for the reason that they can and by the end of the film, the leader of the group remains untouched and unharmed. This is probably the most shocking aspect of the film. For the duration of its rather short runtime of 90 minutes, I was praying for the kid to be slaughtered by our protagonist which unfortunately doesn’t happen. What we have in the end is the man standing in front of the mirror and fantasizing about his exploits wearing the shades of the man he had just murdered.
Nursery teacher Jenny (Kelly Reilly) and her boyfriend Steve (Michael Fassbender), escape for a romantic weekend. Steve is planning to propose Jenny and even has the ring ready. He has found an idyllic setting for their romantic weekend in a remote lake enclosed by woodlands and seemingly deserted. The couple’s peace is however quickly shattered when a gang of obnoxious kids arrive at their campsite. The kids constantly keep provoking the adults until they steal the couple’s car leaving them stranded. Forced to face the kids, tempers soon soar and Steve ends up killing their dog accidentally. The Kids pursue the adults and catch hold of Steve after he meets with an accident. Steve is subjected to brutal tortures for what he had done to their dog. Once they are done with Steve, Jenny is subjected to a brutal and relentless game of cat-and-mouse as she desperately tries to evade her young pursuers and find her way out of the woods.
Eden Lake is as relentless as it is shocking. For the duration of its runtime, it keeps the mood tense and the viewer at the edge of their seats. For those who don’t have any idea about the film’s material, the initial buildup doesn’t tell anything of what is about to come. Frankly speaking I was shocked at the overwhelming and marauding physicality that the kids display. Steve starts off strong against the kids but soon gives in to their united strength. There is a scene where he is tied by the same chain that the kid’s dear deceased dog was tied and is brutalized serially by the kids. This one scene will make your gut wrench especially the way it ends when the Kids pursue Jenny. One of the kids puts a knife inside Steve’s mouth and twists it with blood gushing out. Jack O’Connell as the leader of the kids is perfectly hateable.
The film is able to make you believe in what is happening and sans a few momentary lapse of logic, it remains on track for most of the duration. The violence is extensive and graphic. The performances by Reilly and Fassbender is terrific. They are able to bring out the fear in you. It’s actually heartbreaking to see a man like Fassbender who starts out so strong, finally surrendering to a bunch of kids. Reilly on the other hand is a picture of the atrocities committed on them. Covered in mud and filth, she tries to redeem herself and save her boyfriend but finally succumbs to the situation. The climax in which she finally seems to have found refuge in a family, is violently intruded when we realize that she has landed up in the house of the leader of the perpetrators.
The film’s cinematography and editing is top notch. The chase sequences, the tense moments, the uncanny angles that are used to extract tension is wonderfully executed. The fast editing successfully complements the cinematography which also at many junctures enhances the overall effect of the narrative. Eden Lake can be very easily looked upon as a horror film. The film is bound to scare the be-Jesus out of you. It also works as a slasher flick as there are loads of grotesque and graphic violence to go with the scares and thrills. The heartbreaking climax does well to increase the shock value of the film. There was a similar Bollywood flick called “NH10” in which the heroine went all guns blazing against the perpetrators and finished them off in the end. But I have to agree that the villains coming out trumps, makes the narrative that much more effective, even though it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Eden Lake is a must watch if you can stomach the violence and gore that is on display.