Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hoodie Horror

EDEN LAKE (2008)

Kelly Reilly is a spectre of mud and blood.

THE horror genre speaks in metaphor, representing any number of oblique meanings amongst its supernatural settings or bludgeoning grue. But sometimes a horror film confronts the audience directly with topical terrors that get under the skin. EDEN LAKE echoes THE DESCENT - in particular with its mournful score, plentiful aerial shots and a blood spattered protagonist on the brink of insanity - but where Neil Marshall had wall crawling cave dwellers, James Watkins' characters are unnervingly closer to home in what could be termed a hybrid of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and STRAW DOGS. EDEN LAKE is the story of primary teacher Jenny (Kelly Reilly), whose boyfriend Steve (Michael Fassbender) has asked her away for a camping weekend on the banks of the titular flooded quarry, with the intention of proposing. 

The break turns into a nightmare when they encounter a gang of youths with a rottweiler. After Steve accidentally kills the canine, the situation spirals out of control, culminating in improvised torture and murder; and having prompted the viewer to wonder where the parents of these minors are, the film drives us right to their front door. EDEN LAKE is a formidably well-made thriller, ruthlessly extreme and genuinely upsetting. Focusing on the middle-class fear of a younger, violent underclass, and the effects of bad parenting, its festering, feral anger and survivalist horror themes are made so powerful by stunning performances. Reilly and Fassbender are perfectly cast as naturalistic lovers, and leading the teenage assault is an absolutely chilling Jack O’Connell as Brett, who encapsulates the hoodie hooligan: blunt, sadistic and incapable of being reasoned with.