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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Kelly Reilly
Michael Fassbender
Thomas Turgoose
Bronson Webb
Jack O'Connell
Shaun Dooley.
Directors
James Watkins.
Screenwriters
Running Time
87 minutes

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Eden Lake
Go on – hug a hoodie now, we dare you...


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Plot
As an engagement surprise, Steve (Fassbender) takes his girlfriend Jenny (Reilly) on a camping trip to a secluded lake. When a gang of yoofs steal their car, Steve confronts them, leading to a brutal act of violence...


Review
Eden Lake
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Through enthusiastic over-breeding - Wrong Turn, Timber Falls, Texas Chainsaw - the hillbilly horror is so well-established it’s crowned itself a subgenre. And for good reason: it’s tooled-up to give audiences a blast of primal fear - these are films that shake us out of our suburban comfort zone, drop us into hostile territory and punch the buttons of our most basic animal instinct - fight or flight.

That’s the theory. In truth, the current batch have been about as terrifying as a trip to Neasden. As a cat-and-mouse movie set in deep, dark woods, Eden Lake screams from the same sheet, but the recasting adds an extreme new shudder. For hillbilly, read hoodie.

Steve (Fassbender) and Jenny (Reilly) are your emblematic Ikea couple, weekend-breaking from London to a natural beauty spot, where Steve plans to propose. Luck favours the devil in horror movies - that’s to say, everything that can go wrong, will go wrong - but the catalyst here is depressingly innocuous, and horribly familiar. Approaching a local gang who’ve gatecrashed their camping spot, Steve asks them... to turn the music down. Intimidation turns to aggravation, and an escalating rage results in one of the year’s most shocking scenes. They torture him. It’s quite enough that the camera doesn’t flinch; what’s really troubling is the plausibility of their motivation: peer pressure. Terrorised by their dead-eyed ringleader, Brett (an excellent O’Connell), they all take part. It’s what the BBFC would call “challenging material”, but dramatically speaking, it’s so unforgiving you have no idea how far the movie is going to push things.

In terms of close-calls and confrontations, Eden Lake is so locked into its genre we even get the girl-running-then-tripping routine - but there’s a raw, British grit to the performances that lends a queasy, authentic edge. Reilly’s slow crack into rage is alarming, but the kids? Scarily recognisable - they’re like the lot that hang outside your local Kwik Save, and they’re frighteningly good.

If it’s doing its job properly, horror should hold up a mirror to the culture it came from and throw up a distorted reflection. Happy slapping, have-a-go-heroes, gang violence, knife crime: Eden Lake takes the full Munch scream of Daily Mail terrors and turns up the volume, hard. It’s a bleak vision, and some might find it guilty of exploiting some distressing headlines. Which, being an exploitation movie, it has every right to do. There’s no answers but it does pose questions: where’s the discipline, it asks? More to the point, where the hell are the parents?

This is James Watkins’ debut and he’s clearly a talent to watch. Through controlled tension and draining sense of no escape, he’s crafted a contemporary nightmare and not once does he sweeten the pill (any humour’s tucked well away; although you might just catch the name of the lake: Slapton). Much like The Descent, it’s a rare case of us taking on Hollywood at its own game. Speaking of which, next up for Watkins is a writing gig on The Descent 2. It already sounds like a journey worth dreading.


Verdict
You don't watch it, you survive it. A battering experience, and the hardest Brit horror in years.


Reviewed by Simon Crook

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Eden Lake
Empire Star Rating

Eden Lake Review

A brutal and effective British hoodie-horror that despite the clichés stays on the right side of scary. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 10:11, 21 May 2012 | Report This Post


Came in completely cold, and it blew me away.

So I began my Lovefilm subscription yesterday, and me and my dad settled down to watch a movie. In all honesty, we stumbled upon Eden Lake, and watched it completely cold - with no prior information. It's horrifically gritty, stunningly shot and brutally violent - the scene with the torture is enough to make you feel physically sick - but one thing underpins it all, fantastic performances. Fassbender could be the type of actor to think that all this is below him, but he plays it perfectly st... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by filmfanatic123 at 12:10, 23 March 2012 | Report This Post


Fucking Brutal.

Where do I start? This has got to be some of the most brutal things I've seen in years. The brutality captured by James Watkins reminds me of Straw Dogs but better yet this movie reminds me of society today. At my high school my fellow class mates are violent sadistic assholes taking pleasure in hurting others, the hoodie-evil bastard- type kids in this movie are just that with the added element their fucking physco's. This film was fairly entertaining both the shaky camera work and the brutal... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lewisb548 at 19:53, 27 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Phenomenal

l, kind of relevant today. Eden Lake was a boring unimaginative unoriginal piece of film with large chunks of it becoming incredibly predictable if you have seen Texas Chainsaw, Wolf Creek or the Descent- the latter of which is remarkably similar in tone and style and soundtrack. Watching a damsel in distress or like character being pushed to the edge and turning 180 degress on themselves has become derivative of many horror films and I didnt see anything new here. There was the odd squirm... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gordonsalive at 19:47, 24 August 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Phenomenal

no answers but it does pose questions: where’s the discipline, it asks? More to the point, where the hell are the parents? ol, kind of relevant today. Eden Lake was a boring unimaginative unoriginal piece of film with large chunks of it becoming incredibly predictable if you have seen Texas Chainsaw, Wolf Creek or the Descent- the latter of which is remarkably similar in tone and style and soundtrack. Watching a damsel in distress or like character being pushed to the edge and turning 1... More

Posted by kumar at 01:18, 21 August 2011 | Report This Post


Phenomenal

I don't know exactly what I was expecting when I watched this film. I guess I was expecting a clever, relevant thriller regarding hoodie and chav culture in todays world. What I got was not a thriller, but a jaw-dropping, nail-gnawing, momentous assault of a horror film. No film has ever affected me as badly or as deeply as Eden Lake. I have seen many, many horror films before, but none have frightened me like this. The realness is unnervingly hostile, the rawness is unflinchingly brutal and gra... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 21:40, 21 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: nasty nasty stuff

Just been having a look through some older films reviews and came across this. I watched this a couple of months ago, and my god is it a difficult watch. I've got to agree with the Empire review in that it is believable that this kind of thing could happen to anyone. It actually got me pretty angry, but that's because I have an absolute hatred of chavs/scallies/whatever you want to call them. Those people should all be put on an island Battle Royale style! However, I also loved the film. I was ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chod burger at 13:11, 07 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: nasty nasty stuff

its a TERIFFIC piece of social comment/drama, dont believe otherwise. if it were french, it would be hailed as a groundbreaker. the humilation of fassbenders need to protect is heartbreaking.this is no horror, but its horrific not due to anything visual, but due to WHY? ps the main girl chav is also supurb ... More

Posted by empire No. 1 at 01:04, 22 February 2010 | Report This Post


nasty nasty stuff

The line between love/hate with this movie seems to fall entirely on whether you think a) shit, this is pretty believable, or b) what a terrible piece of gross scare-mongering stereotyping. Either way it's a your above-average horror stuff. Gross, violent, very grim, quite tense, well-acted (the gang leader is superb). Just keep telling yourself its only a movie!... or is it?? ahhh! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 14:53, 10 February 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Lake

Nice. Just catching up with some of the posts and im glad to see most of you at least gave the film a chance. Sure its not for everybody and it gets a bit over-the-top, but thats the point i think. Just like someone mentioned a certain magazine being inferior to EMPIRE....you bet your lunch it is, and i bet that their forums cannot not even come close to these forums and its members. ... More

Posted by wgamador at 23:22, 29 January 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Lake

Shocking, horrific, with fantastic acting and well put-together sequences. Why Total Film gave this 1 star is a mystery - actually no, it isn't, it just shows how inferior the magazine is to Empire. 7/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robwillphill at 19:58, 27 January 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Excellent!

Finally got round to watching this yesterday. What a nasty, nasty film. I think it's great! I wouldn't go as far to say I enjoy it, but it's a brilliant film. Now I'm not one who normally reads into things too much, but I suppose the subject matter is too in your face to ignore. This could be a comment on how little chav bastards these days are conscienceless fucks these days, or could be playing on people fears of the 'ASBO generation'. However I did see the ending coming a mile off... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by juanvasquez at 23:47, 25 January 2010 | Report This Post


Excellent!

Watched it yesterday: tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt1020530/]Eden Lake A young couple goes camping in the forest near Eden Lake but soon after their arrival they get bothered by a bunch of noisy teenagers. When Steve (Michael Fassbender) asks them to turn it down a notch it soon gets from bad to worse and they soon find themselves in the middle of a horror weekend. When the movie`s finished, the comparison with Straw Dogs is quickly made. It isn`t an easy rip-off of the Dustin Hoffman starre... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 23:22, 07 September 2009 | Report This Post


dog turd!

An utterly unforgivable bit of film making. A film which is aimed at Guardian readers (the stereotyping is shamefull) The weak willed and shallow of mind will watch this and absolutely shite themselves next time they have to walk to the shop, waiting for the "hoodies" to "do them over" Hopefuly, people wont watch this and think all young, working class kids are absolute scumbags. Thanks to the news and directors such as this one, kids are given a rough time. And thank... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dezwalker at 19:58, 07 August 2009 | Report This Post


Social commentary horror

I can see why the director said some viewers thought this film should shown in schools. Horror films usually have a layer of unreality to them making them feel safer. Eden Lake largely strips that away, leaving a very real world setting filled with very real violent acts to be watched. The 'villains' of the piece are suitablely horrible and you can feel yourself thinking that you could geniunely meet such people and events could turns as nasty very quickly. If further proof were necessary le... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by brokenking at 14:04, 17 June 2009 | Report This Post


Bloody Kids.

Turns out, hell really is other people. After writing the screenplays for My Little Eye (2002) and Gone (2007), one could be forgiven for writing James Watkins off as another Brit-Horror also-ran, but his directorial debut deserves a place alongside The Wicker Man, Don’t Look Now and The Descent as one of the great British horror films. Like all great horror, Eden Lake unflinchingly captures all the stuff that nightmares are made of. Peace and security spiral into terror and ambigu... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AutoBarn at 02:03, 08 June 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

L: wgamador L: Lazarus munkey Insipid torture-porn dressed in a gossamer-thin veneer of social commentary. It's mean-spirited, badly acted, illogical, cliché-ridden and has a ludicrously simplistic I-blame-the-parents coda that makes you want to punch the screen. The now ubiquitous bleak ending offers a shock of such non-earth shattering proportions that in 3 months you'l struggle to differentiate this with any other film in the genre. i]scene is there for notorioty value on... More

Posted by Charlie Dont Surf at 23:26, 19 May 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

I like this Talpacino person.   ... More

Posted by wgamador at 18:03, 15 May 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

L: wgamador L: talpacino My god, what a horrible little film. One of my most uncomfortable viewings ever. I've heard it was a tough watch but my jaysus I never thought it would be that tough. Did you like the movie ? Little nasty scenes that made you squirm in your seat. were fantastic. sp; It's a really good film but I'm not sure I can say I enjoyed it. Definitely made me squirm anyway.   It's the fact that it's all so possible that got to me. I see little shi... More

Posted by talpacino at 15:13, 15 May 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

L: talpacino My god, what a horrible little film. One of my most uncomfortable viewings ever. I've heard it was a tough watch but my jaysus I never thought it would be that tough. sp; Did you like the movie ?   Little nasty scenes that made you squirm in your seat. were fantastic.   ... More

Posted by wgamador at 14:33, 15 May 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

My god, what a horrible little film. One of my most uncomfortable viewings ever. I've heard it was a tough watch but my jaysus I never thought it would be that tough. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by talpacino at 23:18, 14 May 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

L: Lazarus munkey Insipid torture-porn dressed in a gossamer-thin veneer of social commentary. It's mean-spirited, badly acted, illogical, cliché-ridden and has a ludicrously simplistic I-blame-the-parents coda that makes you want to punch the screen. The now ubiquitous bleak ending offers a shock of such non-earth shattering proportions that in 3 months you'l struggle to differentiate this with any other film in the genre. i]scene is there for notorioty value only. Watch th... More

Posted by wgamador at 19:04, 06 March 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Lake

I ended up chatting with the director actually. Who, bizarrely, seems a very balanced, lovely chap.   That film is hella-depressing though. ... More

Posted by spliggle at 18:04, 06 March 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

L: lympo Well... I liked it as we have many chaves out here. So its nice to get some more hate for them.ote]   Why are they called 'chaves' ? I liked the film because it accomplishes what it's set out to do.........disturb the living piss out of you.   ... More

Posted by wgamador at 15:35, 27 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

Well... I liked it as we have many chaves out here. So its nice to get some more hate for them. ... More

Posted by lympo at 15:31, 27 February 2009 | Report This Post


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