Mar 23, 2009
Eden Lake Shmeden Lake
Believe you me, sisters and brothers, I realize that I'm a bit of an outsider. My fondness for wearing my pants backwards, my penchant not to "bathe" regularly, and my unceasing devotion to Jumpin' Jack Flash leave me squarely outside what uppity jerks might refer to as "polite" "society". Truth be told, I just don't care- I'm what the experts call "a true American Original", akin to Tupperware or Jingle Jugs. Like Wolverine or Andy Rooney, I do what I please when I please, consequences be damned. Still, when I find myself a million light years out of step with what seems to be the entire horror community, it throws me for a loop. Y'alls is sa-POSED to be mah peeps!
The movie in question that's got me feeling like an outsider- and not even an Outsider who stays gold- is Eden Lake. Word of mouth about this film was great. It seemed like the whole world was touching themselves over it and I really couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Then I did, and...I don't know man. I really didn't dig it, and that really bums me out.
Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender star as Jenny and Steve, a white-bread couple who decide to take a weekend holiday at a flooded quarry-cum-lake. Shortly after they arrive, they run afoul of a group of punk-ass jerk kids. The punk-ass jerk kids continue to act punk-ass and jerky, while Steve decides he's "not going to take it". Events rapidly escalate: a dog ends up dead, Steve ends up dead, and Jenny ends up running for her life from the chav ringleader Brett (Jack O'Connell) and his homicidal bully pals.
It's all fairly standard survival horror stuff and that's all well and good, but I never found myself connecting with this film or the characters in any meaningful way. In short, I've seen other films addressing the kids are homicidal douchebags notion (eg Wilderness) that I found far more compelling than Eden Lake. I think the issue of class was meant to play a larger role here than it actually did- the kids are all the product of a violent, rough, working-class upbringing, while Jenny and Steve come rolling into the region in their Land Rover. A sign posted at Eden Lake, promising of the gated community to be built there soon, is graffitied with "fuck off yuppy cunts". Someone should tell the painter that the message would be more effective if it were written on the front of the sign, where people can see it. Perhaps having it on the back adds suspense in the sense that the audience knows what the characters don't, but it may have been more interesting if the characters willfully wandered into what's essentially hostile territory. Eh, coulda shoulda woulda.
Frankly, Jenny and Steve were so willfully stupid that I found myself simply not caring what tragedy befell them. Not that they deserved to be set upon by these psychos, but they did little to prevent it, either. From the implausible (in a pointless, drawn-out sequence, Steve breaks into the home of one of the teens and is almost caught) to the downright infuriating (Steve, pinned in place after a car crash, sends Kelly for help...Kelly promptly squats behind a tree and takes a nap) to the point where I check out (Kelly watches Steve as he's tortured, practically begging to be discovered), I rather hated them.
And I know it's a petty, personal thing, but women who sort of emulate children in their manner and their dress really set my teeth on edge. Perhaps Jenny's "innocent" bit is meant to contrast with the lengths she's driven to throughout this ordeal, I don't know. Still, the only grown woman acting like a child I want to watch is a man, and that man is Alan Rowe Kelly. If you haven't seen his turn as Beefteena in The Blood Shed, you're missing out on some real fucking magic, my friends.
The point is to talk about Eden Lake, though, right? As I said, I'm completely 100% in the minority, but I found it to be little more- or maybe even little less- than a by-the-numbers survival horror flick that didn't move me, horrify me, scare me, or thrill me in any way. Then again, I wear my pants backwards, so what do I know?