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Eden Lake (2008)

Refusing to let anything spoil their romantic weekend break, a young couple confront a gang of loutish youths with terrifyingly brutal consequences.

Eden Lake is a 2008 British horror film written and directed by first time director James Watkins, who has since gone on to direct ‘The Woman In Black‘ on the back of the success of Eden Lake.

Nursery teacher Jenny (Kelly Reilly) and her boyfriend Steve (Michael Fassbender) escape for a romantic weekend at an idyllic remote lake. The lake is hidden away in an old quarry, and fenced off from the public as it will soon become a new housing project. After sneaking in and locating the little beach area by the lake, the couple attempt to enjoy a relaxing day, but they are harassed by a gang of teenage hooligans.

Steve tries to make a peaceful resolution with the kids, but they aren’t interested so Steve walks away like the grown up he is. The couple decide to stay the night on the beach as planned, and not be pushed around by the gang.

Naturally, as the hours wear on, the confrontation gets worse, with the kids stealing the couples car for a joy ride. Then they get into a knife fight over the car and some other stolen properties, and this leads to the death of the kids’ pet Rottweiler. Then things start to get very nasty, with our couple on the run for their lives. Crashing their car, they are left alone in the woods with the children, led by the homicidal and merciless Brett (Jack O’Connell). The rest of the story will remain unspoiled, as if you haven’t seen this film you are in for a treat.

There are some very violent moments in Eden Lake. One scene in particular toward the end really escalates fast, and whilst I felt this was maybe out of character even for the deranged Brett, it really pushed the film into the extreme territory.

Considering this was a relatively low-budget British film, made by a first time director, Eden Lake really excels on pretty much every level. The performances from the actors here are all excellent. Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender both make us relate to them, and root for them, and ultimately make us care for them and their survival. Jack O’Connell plays the ring leader of the group Brett, and he really shines. Playing a merciless hateful character is not the easiest thing to do, and the fact that a grown man like Steve shouldn’t be frightened of a kid but is, shows what a presence Brett has, and the rest of the gang either idolize or fear him and do as he says. One of the gang is played by Thomas Turgoose. I have been a big fan of his since he was in ‘This is England’ and he doesn’t disappoint in this film either, despite only having a small role.

The ending will either be seen by people as brilliant and controversial, or coincidental and contrived. I’m probably in the latter group to be honest, as while I liked the nature of it, I just felt there was such a slim chance of this actually happening. I loved the fact the director went for this ending though, certainly not a generic film ending by any means!

The ending aside, my only other complaints would be that there were a few moments of the typical ‘horror clichés’ apparent in Eden Lake. No one called the police, the scene in the house early on in the film felt like something no one in their right mind would do, the way the kids knew the woods like they were perfect hunters, and a couple of really lucky ‘coincidences’. Yet for whatever reason they barely detract from the film, and I was happy to overlook them as the rest of the film was tight and excellently done, from the script right down to the look and feel of the woods.

Maybe the scariest thing about the movie is not the gore or the suspense. The scariest thing is that it is so believable and is a sad reflection of some aspects of our modern society. Those kids are real. Those parents exist. For example, here in Britain only a few months ago there was a story eerily similar to the plot from Eden Lake.

A man was captured by a gang on the streets, then taken and beaten up with a bat. His bank card was stolen from him and taken to a cash machine where the gang withdrew £20. The gang then returned and tortured him to death in the kitchen of a flat using fists and feet, stabbing him with broken bottles and kitchen knives. The next day the gang wheeled the guy in a blood-soaked carpet through the streets in wheelie bins before finding a metal bin on an industrial estate, where they proceeded to douse his body in petrol and set him on fire.

I don’t want to sound like I’m here to preach, but a human life taken away for the sake of £20. That is just one example of how messed up society is. So when people say Eden Lake is too far-fetched, unrealistic or not something kids would do, they need to do some research and watch the news, as sadly this kind of thing is far too frequent and the film highlights how bad society and the whole youth/gang/knife culture has become.

In conclusion, I would say Eden Lake is excellently acted and directed, and totally intense. It may just be the best British horror film in years, and if you ever get chance to check it out I would urge you to do so.

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51 Comments

  1. I’m a big fan of revenge films – especially when the recipients of someone’s revenge are such deserving jerks as these clowns seem to be – so this movie sounds like it’s right up my alley. I’d never heard of it before your review, so hopefully I’ll be able to track it down somewhere. And you’re right; sadly, a story such as this one is all too often a mirror of society nowadays. Nice review, Tyson!

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    • Thanks Todd 🙂

      Hope you do get to track it down, great performances all round and just a really strong movie. Definitely a film which stirs up some emotion and hate towards the group of kids, which is obviously what was intended.

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  2. I’ve heard of this one, Tyson. It does have a reputation. I may give this one a go based on your fine review. Thanks.

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  3. This film is fucking intense! 7 Stars? I gave it 3 and a half blood drops myself. Loved this film.

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  4. theipc

     /  October 18, 2012

    Wow – look at this… we agree on something again!!

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  5. Great review, this really looks like an interesting watch.

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    • Cheers Vinnie. Yeah definitely is, pretty relentless from start to finish.

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      • Frpm watching the trailer it sure looks like a brutal but effective film.

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        • Very much so. At times the violence is hard to watch, and because it’s essentially kids doing it (or having it done to them) it seems to make it worse. But that doesn’t detract from the overall film, really is simple but very effective.

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  6. Carly

     /  October 18, 2012

    This idea of this film is scary as it could like you said really happen in this time. Some parts are far fetched like the house you mentioned. I found myself really routing for the main characters and hating the leader of the youth group. It made me think what would I do if in this situation. It was more violent than I expected and found some scenes as always hard to watch. Great review.

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  7. I really liked this movie. Sure, it does suffer from cliches like you mentioned and the ending is more frustrating than anything, but it looks great, is acted incredibly well (Fassy in anything.. I’ll watch), and the entire idea is eerie. Great review. I haven’t seen a lot of reviews about this one. I caught it on TV awhile ago.

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    • Cheers Nick 🙂

      Yeah it didn’t make much money or get much of a release, which is a shame as it really is a great movie. Not a bad performance from any of the main cast, really is well acted as you say.

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  8. Nice one bro. I really liked this. Yes, it’s a tad far fetched but still very well crafted.

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    • Cheers Mark.

      The ending was the bit that got me the most, in terms of it not seeming very plausible, but it deserves to be seen that’s for sure.

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  9. I’ve heard of this before, but now I’ll really have to check it out haha! Nice review 🙂

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  10. gregory moss

     /  October 19, 2012

    Nice one man. And it’s great to see British horror making a resurgence. I grew up with Hammer films on TV as a kid (every friday night, presented by a local horror host – a guy in a coffin called ‘Deadly Ernest’) and so I tend to have an affinity with horror films from ‘the mother country’. I recently saw Trauma (the British film – not the Argento one) which had its moments. 🙂

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    • Trauma with Colin Firth? I saw that one years ago, because I have always liked Mena Suvari. I don’t remember much about it, so I can’t of been too impressed. Not Firth’s biggest fan though. If thats the wrong film I apologise, just recognise that name!

      Cheers for stopping by Greg, always appreciated 🙂

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  11. craft fear

     /  October 19, 2012

    This seems a bit intimidating but looks pretty thrilling. I always hate seeing animals die, which is ironic since I seem to do all right with people getting killed left and right…wth?

    That news story about that guy getting tortured over 20 pounds is chilling. In my neighborhood people just kill each other over methamphetamine. Btw, have you seen Ils? Seems a bit like this with a bit more cat and mouse.

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    • The animal in this is horrible though!! 😉

      It’s a terrible story isn’t it?! That was just one in the paper on the day I wrote this, scary how little life is to some people.

      I have seen Ils, I reviewed it (its on my A-Z dropdown on the right side of the homepage if your interested) and yeah very similar in tone. Just a different setting, and maybe Eden Lake is more vicious/brutal.

      Thanks for the comment 🙂

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  12. I have always felt gore is not inherenetly scary. Disgusting yes, but not necessarily frightening. Now people — they can be very scary. Also, things (for me) that are heard and felt, but you can’t see are scarier than obvious stuff. I mean, how scare is Godzilla, really? It’s fun,, but it doesn’t scare anyone. That’ why “The Haunting” was so good. You see very little, but you it’s there.

    Love the pictures. Nice to see some greaet graphics!

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    • Real people are much scarier I agree. As you say, sometimes less is more, especially in horror movies. Thats why I liked films like Funny Games, where you know something horrible has just happened and you see the aftermath but it happens off screen, so much more unsettling some times.

      Thanks as always for the comment Marilyn 🙂

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  13. I’ve never been sure about this one simply because everything I’ve read suggests it is all too plausible, but I think I should give it a go now based on your review. May have to hide from the squeamish bits !

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    • Thanks. There are a few squeamish bits, but for the most parts it’s a brilliant cat and mouse chase film. Let me know what you think if you ever see it. Thanks for dropping by 🙂

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  14. Great review of a great movie. The 2 leads may not have the most depth. But yet something about them made them very sympathetic at least for me. Ending was lame, but doesn’t spoil an excellent movie

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    • Thanks!

      Yeah I really felt for the couple. I just felt the ending was all a bit far fetched, but I agree it didn’t really tarnish the film.

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  15. Great review. Will check this out. The Fass can do no wrong in my eyes.
    By the way, that story with the old man being tortured is so awful. Can’t believe thing like that actually happen in this day and age :/

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    • Cheers Fernando!

      Actually, it was a young guy (22 I believe) that was killed. Horrible isnt it, and thats just one story in the news the day I wrote the piece. Happening more and more sadly.

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  16. Mithil

     /  October 21, 2012

    couldn’t agree with you more. The movie seemed a lot realistic and equally disturbing. I could feel the disgust building up inside me. Great Review Tyson …… great job .. keep it up

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  17. In my queue already! Also you used the word “loutish” of which I highly approve.

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  1. Eden Lake (2008) | Head In A Vice

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