Director: James Watkins
Writer: James Watkins
Stars: Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender and Tara Ellis
Stephen Taylor (Michael Fassbender) invites his girlfriend (Kelly Reilly), a kindergarten teacher Jenny, to spend the weekend in Eden Lake, a paradisaical and remote place in the woods. However, his true intention is to propose Jenny. While camping at the lake shore, they are disturbed by a gang of loathsome boys leaded by the punk Brett. The next day, the couple realizes that they have been robbed and are stranded in the woods without their car. While walking through the forest trying to reach the road, Steve and Jenny meet the gang and they are brutally attacked. Steve is captured by the youths while Jenny is seeks a way out of the woods with the criminals chasing her.
I want to say upfront – I love kids. I want to have three myself. Whenever I turn on the news and I hear something bad happened to a child I instantly have tears in my eyes. But as I sometimes wonder about my future kids' possible names and how would they look like I always think of infants and kinder garden kids, never about the time when they start to rebel. Teenagers are hell, no matter where they are and who raises them. But hell has many different shades - there is a difference between smoking cigarettes in school bathroom when they are fifteen and torturing strangers when they are twelve.
“Eden Lake” tells a story that can happen to anyone and that is the most petrifying aspect of the film. When you're watching it you think that something like this cannot possibly happen in today's world, but then you start thinking and you come to the conclusion that sadly it is, in fact, our horrible reality – that children like those in the movie can be seen anywhere around us. Stephan and Jenny are a normal couple – she's sweet, loves kids as she is kinder garden teacher. He is trying to look like a macho in front of her, but as he wants to propose, he takes her for romantic weekend at the lake.
The two ride to isolated area near small English city, inhabited by poor and uneducated people. Comparing to them, Stephan and Jenny look almost like snobbish yuppies. Soon upon arrival the couple has unpleasant encounter with the kids from the city – they play their music too loud and Stephan comes over to ask them to turn it down. They don't listen, they mock him and then they are starting to become more and more aggressive. What we witness for the rest of the movie is a horrifying escalation of pointless violence. Awful especially that it is inflicted by 12-year old kids.
We all know that if a minor commits the crime his responsibility for it is treated differently. The criminal doesn't go to prison, but to juvenile hall, he serves less time. But why is it exactly? It is because those children are supposed to be shaped, thought and guided in life by their parents and if such guidance is not provided, if from the very beginning they entered this world they had no role modes, no moral rules, no ethic code to follow, they had no chance to grow up to be decent human beings. As we see kids' parents in this movie, one may wonder if the right solution wouldn't be for parents to get more serious punishments for how they children behave.
As I watched everyone in this movie with the exception of Stephan and Jenny it has occurred to me that these creatures are like mutants from “The hills have eyes” with one exception. They do not groan – they spit out primitive swear words. I like thinking that people are in fact highest form of evolution, that we have souls, that we will go on, but I know, deep inside, that it is not true. This movie like very few others before it shows something that is the truth – people are animals. And maybe even worse. If nobody gave us rules or punished us when we did wrong, we would still kill each other on daily basis, each and every one of us. Cave people, no more or less. Left by society, that's how people end up.
Apart from brutal conclusions after its over, “Eden lake” serves brutal things throughout – I do not know what was worse in terms of unpleasantness – the gore or the primitive behavior of the trash that tortured protagonists. It's rare that I cheer when someone dies in the movie and I did here and I think for the first time ever I cheered when, let's face it, somebody's child was killed. At least Damien from “Omen” had class.
But because those characters make mistakes, as idiotic as those mistakes are, we sympathize with them especially that they don't give up and put up a fight. Especially Jenny, whose profession was quite simple but a smart move on screenwriter's part and her incredible strength and will to survive are impressive. Kelly Reilly, whom I only saw before in “Sherlock Holmes” and “Pride and Prejudice” is excellent here and Michael Fassbender, one of the cinema's raising stars (his recent projects include “Jane Eyre”,”A Dangerous Method”, X-Men-First Class” and “Prometheus”) is as usual great. The film's ending is as brutal and uncompromising as is its message. It's a very shocking movie and it's definitely not for people with weak nerves.