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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

RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

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 the far superior 'T... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Lazarus munkey at 10:02, 26 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

So I see (courtesy of IMDB) that James Watkins has been handed the job of directing 'The Descent: Part II'.   I didn't like the first one, very overrated, not at all scary and rather ridiculous but with Watkins on board maybe he can surprise me and produce a great sequel. ... More

Posted by Goodfella at 16:43, 20 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

L: wgamador I will add that i was shocked that someone with your username didnt like the content of the film. nbsp; ote] nothing against the content, hell I just watched Saw V whilst eating my sausage casserole lence and gore no longer shock me, it is the situation that can make me shudder not the violence itself, hence why in Eden Lake I was more bored then anything as it just wasn't shocking (except the ending in fairness) it had too many horror cliches going for it to b... More

Posted by satan_claws at 23:58, 19 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

L: satan_claws Eden Lake falls for all the horror cliches without an ounce of humour to forgive them, the violence in itself is not enough to make a movie worthwile, it has to have something else going for it and personally I didn't think Eden Lake did. sp; I think thats what it all boils down to. Personal taste. I liked that the movie didnt try and be something except a movie about a couple being hunted by some vicious kids who's hearts are filled with darkness. I liked that ... More

Posted by wgamador at 20:47, 19 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

I totally appreciate what you are getting at with your points, perhaps I misjudged to what opinions you were reffering to, it seemed that you were saying people who didn't like the film should have known they weren't going to like it if they didn't like violent movies, but looking at your explanation I think perhaps you were saying people who went in expecting a "drama" (for want of a better word)  were shocked and disturbed by the violence as it wasn't expected, am I right? My point... More

Posted by satan_claws at 19:40, 19 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

L: satan_claws L: wgamador I dont watch 'musicals' because I find them dumb. But knowing that, I avoid them like the plague. Because I know that If i watch one, Im only going to point out the negative and thats not fair to those who really enjoy 'musicals'. If you look back at all my comments in this thread you will see why i liked and disliked the film. But I knew what I was getting into before I even watched it so the positives outweigh the negatives. I dont always watch ... More

Posted by wgamador at 17:09, 19 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

L: wgamador I dont watch 'musicals' because I find them dumb. But knowing that, I avoid them like the plague. Because I know that If i watch one, Im only going to point out the negative and thats not fair to those who really enjoy 'musicals'. If you look back at all my comments in this thread you will see why i liked and disliked the film. But I knew what I was getting into before I even watched it so the positives outweigh the negatives. I dont always watch a film to get some g... More

Posted by satan_claws at 16:18, 19 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

L: Emyr Thy King L: qualidad Superb writing, fantastic comment on the world we now live in. Pulls absolutely no punches. f I were to create a short film which featured a child throwing a stone through a window and an adolescant throwing a molotov cocktail at a group of policemen in riot gear, would that suddenly make it a 'commentary' on world affairs? This is lazy film making, there's no art, no originality or passion involved here at all. It simply acts as a front for some individ... More

Posted by wgamador at 21:12, 16 February 2009 | Report This Post


Modern depravity has destroyed Eden (intelligence)

L: qualidad Superb writing, fantastic comment on the world we now live in. Pulls absolutely no punches. f I were to create a short film which featured a child throwing a stone through a window and an adolescant throwing a molotov cocktail at a group of policemen in riot gear, would that suddenly make it a 'commentary' on world affairs? This is lazy film making, there's no art, no originality or passion involved here at all. It simply acts as a front for some individuals' childish whim t... More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 19:47, 16 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Fake

Just finished watching this and wanted to say how utterly, utterly stupid this film was.  It's probably all been noted in previous posts but it had zero credibility from very early on.  I realise it's a horror film but that can't excuse it in this instance.  Eden Lake was trying to be a 'realistic' horror film but by ejecting common sense it just ended up being tediously ludicrous.  Dumb beyond belief. ... More

Posted by mackey at 01:15, 15 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Fake

L: Mr E There were a few silly bits in the beginning (Fassbender's character pointlessly trespassing in one of the kid's home) but overall an excellent piece of horror film making. It's very depressing and grim though, there were times when I just wished three red laser dots in the shape of a triangle would appear on one of the chav's heads and Predator would suddenly appear, taking them all out, skinning them, hanging them upside down and keeping their skulls for trophies. ote] &... More

Posted by wgamador at 15:32, 02 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Fake

There were a few silly bits in the beginning (Fassbender's character pointlessly trespassing in one of the kid's home) but overall an excellent piece of horror film making. It's very depressing and grim though, there were times when I just wished three red laser dots in the shape of a triangle would appear on one of the chav's heads and Predator would suddenly appear, taking them all out, skinning them, hanging them upside down and keeping their skulls for trophies. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr E at 01:00, 01 February 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Fake

L: Fluke Skywalker You've made some excellent points yourself Wags - I'm just debating stuff not saying your wrong or anything. sp;   You are a class act. Everyone should be able to respectfully disagree. ... More

Posted by wgamador at 14:50, 29 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Fake

L: wgamador L: Fluke Skywalker To actually tempt fate by going back to the exact same spot like nothing happened just wasn't believable. I still stand by my comment on the girl not phoning the cops the second she came through the door - also why didn't anyone else in the house? That was a bit strange as it's not every day you see a highly distressed, bloodied and mud covered woman walk into your garden. Anyone else would be onto the police in under five seconds I agr... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 12:29, 29 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Fake

L: Fluke Skywalker To actually tempt fate by going back to the exact same spot like nothing happened just wasn't believable.     I still stand by my comment on the girl not phoning the cops the second she came through the door - also why didn't anyone else in the house? That was a bit strange as it's not every day you see a highly distressed, bloodied and mud covered woman walk into your garden. Anyone else would be onto the police in under five seconds sp;   I ... More

Posted by wgamador at 18:20, 28 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Fake

L: wgamador L: Invader_Ace It wasn't her phone.  It was the fancy SatNav from the Jeep.  On the way up, he mentions how it can link to his phone, hence why she tried to Bluetooth instead of find reception. I also think it's fair enough she flaked out after all she'd been through.  I also thought the Boyfriend's stance was, for the most part, believable.  Not all of us are (yet) pussies who run off at the first sight of poor person. Nice. good catch about the SatNav, i knew ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 17:24, 28 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: British and Bloody Brilliant!

Saw this afew months back. Wasn't a fan to be honest. The characters and two leads gave performances the kind of which make 70's Itallian zombie films seem like oscar calibre.  The "its grim up north" working class scum terrorising the southern middle-class couple who happen to be so inept and braindead (even though one is primary school teacher and the other seems to be a failry well of fellow), you really feel they get what they deserve IMO. It just created a sort of distan... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kenada_woo at 18:46, 27 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: British and Bloody Brilliant!

L: wgamador L: DONOVAN KURTWOOD I watched this movie last night and was, perhaps slightly foolishly expecting something in the vein of 'While She Was Out' or 'Storm Warning', ie, a highly satisfying revenge type thriller, where our hero or heroin gets their own back on the scum who have been chasing/ harassing them, i was of course completely, astronomically wrong. Eden Lake left me seriously despressed, particularly about the society we live in in this country. I have long been... More

Posted by DONOVAN KURTWOOD at 17:16, 27 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Fake

L: Fluke Skywalker ********** MASSIVE SPOILERS ********* I thought this film was let down by those "no one would do that" moments. Ok fair enough he's got to go up to a bunch of chavs to kick the story off, but after they've been rude, aggressive, whipped their knobs out at his girl and stuck a bottle under his car's wheels puncturing the tyre you have to ask yourself - WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU GO BACK TO THE SAME SPOT??? Plus where the hell did her phone come from?? I mean she's w... More

Posted by DONOVAN KURTWOOD at 17:13, 27 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Fake

L: Invader_Ace It wasn't her phone.  It was the fancy SatNav from the Jeep.  On the way up, he mentions how it can link to his phone, hence why she tried to Bluetooth instead of find reception. I also think it's fair enough she flaked out after all she'd been through.  I also thought the Boyfriend's stance was, for the most part, believable.  Not all of us are (yet) pussies who run off at the first sight of poor person. sp; Nice. good catch about the SatNav, i ... More

Posted by wgamador at 16:06, 27 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: British and Bloody Brilliant!

L: Qwerty Norris Since when is ANY horror film typical of real life? The best horror films turn a situation, ideology or an irrational fear & tweak it into an nightmare scenario. The descent did it with the fear of the dark, and Eden Lake does it with the Ned / Chav epidemic & North/South divide. sp; Er...Yes, that's what I said.  Donovan asked what we thought it said about society.  I said not much as it's a nightmare version of real life.  It works in film, bu... More

Posted by Invader_Ace at 15:51, 27 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Fake

It wasn't her phone.  It was the fancy SatNav from the Jeep.  On the way up, he mentions how it can link to his phone, hence why she tried to Bluetooth instead of find reception. I also think it's fair enough she flaked out after all she'd been through.  I also thought the Boyfriend's stance was, for the most part, believable.  Not all of us are (yet) pussies who run off at the first sight of poor person. ... More

Posted by Invader_Ace at 15:45, 27 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Fake

Yeah I totally agree but it's just when someone does something silly or weird just to move the plot along the movie loses it's impact. ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 16:35, 26 January 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Eden Fake

L: Fluke Skywalker ********** MASSIVE SPOILERS ********* I thought this film was let down by those "no one would do that" moments. Ok fair enough he's got to go up to a bunch of chavs to kick the story off, but after they've been rude, aggressive, whipped their knobs out at his girl and stuck a bottle under his car's wheels puncturing the tyre you have to ask yourself - WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU GO BACK TO THE SAME SPOT??? Plus where the hell did her phone come from?? I mean she's w... More

Posted by wgamador at 16:15, 26 January 2009 | Report This Post


Eden Fake

********** MASSIVE SPOILERS ********* I thought this film was let down by those "no one would do that" moments. Ok fair enough he's got to go up to a bunch of chavs to kick the story off, but after they've been rude, aggressive, whipped their knobs out at his girl and stuck a bottle under his car's wheels puncturing the tyre you have to ask yourself - WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU GO BACK TO THE SAME SPOT??? Plus where the hell did her phone come from?? I mean she's watching him get tortured... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 15:29, 26 January 2009 | Report This Post


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