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 while providing just enough distance. But sometimes a horror film confronts the audience directly with topical terrors that get under the skin. EDEN LAKE echoes THE DESCENT (2005) - 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: knife-wielding, happy-slapping teenagers.

“Getting away from it all” is often filmspeak for inviting impending disaster. 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. But their break turns into a nightmare when they encounter a gang of youths with a rottweiler. After Steve accidentally kills the dog, 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. Brett encapsulates perfectly the hoodie hooligan: blunt, sadistic, and incapable of being reasoned with.