Eden Lake (directed by James Watkins) is a damn good horror movie, but unfortunately will probably get lost amongst the pile of awful horror movies that get released here in America. Of all the movie genres, I’d say horror movies probably have the toughest time pleasing an audience. It has to invoke such a specific emotion in you that when it doesn’t invoke that emotion, the movie inherently becomes a pointless exercise in gore effects, lighting, and sound mixing. But when horror movies do make you feel that sense of fear and does hit all the right notes, it can be a great roller coaster ride. Eden Lake is a fantastic example of the latter. The plot of the movie is simple enough. It’s about a young couple named Jenny (played by Kelly Reilly) and Steve (played by Michael Fassbender) camping at Eden Lake, where they encounter a mischievous gang of teenagers. Almost immediately the trouble begins when Steve asks the teens to turn their music down. Of course the gang doesn’t take too kindly to his request and one confrontation leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to another, till eventually things get deadly and lives start getting lost. Without getting too much into spoilers Jenny and Steve eventually get chased by this gang of assholes through the woods, and that’s where the horror/fun begin.
The characters in the movie are interesting for the most part. Initially, the kids seem pretty non-threatening: they start off looking like a misguided group of hooligans, but by the end they seem like a gang of homicidal maniacs. You as the audience don’t learn too much about them but that unknowing really adds to the fright factor. Since the main focus of the movie is on Steve and Jenny, it’s good they are likable enough that you as the audience actually want them to survive. Do they survive? Do they die? I won’t spoil that. But the ending, whether you like it or not, will definitely get your heart pounding.
The scares in this movie feel very genuine and real. It’s not overtly gory and it’s not overtly atmospheric. It hits all the right notes at all the right times and paces the movie very nicely for maximum tension. It's only about eighty minutes long but by the end of that final minute you'll feel exhausted. Just believe me when I say these kids are down right rotten, and Jenny and Steve end up in some harrowing situations. I'll admit there was one moment that made me want to scream at Jenny, but the rest of the movie was good enough that I was able to over look it.
Eden Lake is a great example of what actually makes a horror movie scary. Although the movie is definitely not for the squeamish, it’s not just wall to wall gore and deaths. It’s also not a movie that relies solely on creepy atmosphere and dim lighting, even though the atmosphere is creepy. Instead it’s a movie that relies on scary situations and people's reactions to those situations. The thing I like most about this movie is the characters react to their situations in believable ways. I guess what I’m getting at is that Eden Lake feels like a movie that could actually happen, and that is what makes it so scary.
My advice, if you have any sort of interest in horror movies, then watch Eden Lake. It’s a shining example of why I like the genre so much.
My score, 7.5/10.