I was err lucky enough to be invited to a blogger's screening of this last night at the intimate Soho Screening rooms, which were followed by a Q & A session with the writer & director James Watkins.
I'm a bit of a scaredy cat and normally wouldn't go to see a horror film like Eden Lake, but it certainly got us talking in the pub afterwards and I felt shocked, exhausted, drained and literally horrified while watching it.
James Watkins wrote the film three years ago before the spate of violent knife crime and murders that we've seen carried out by teenagers in London and other cities in the UK. In the Q & A after the film, he said he sat on the Tube with a friend reading Metro and would look at it thinking - "Wow that's in my film" or "That's similar to what happens in Eden Lake".
But Eden Lake is a horror film and fictional, so much more intense than real life, yet the violence, stabbings, torture and maliciousness (mostly carried out by teenagers) are gory & realistic without glamour. Watkins wanted the film to be a stand-alone "edge of your seat" thriller but also have a "moral ambiguity" to it.
The plot revolves around a fairly smug couple who want to get away from it all and go camping in the woods. They stumble upon a bunch of teenagers, accidentally kill their dog, then real terror and shocking violence follows.
That's about as much of the plot I will give away. The violence does not let up after a while and I was feeling, how much more will the couple stand. I jumped lots of times, had my hand over my eyes and was squirming in my seat. My friend Tom Reynolds the ambulance driver & paramedic blogger & fellow Nom Nom Nom'er was used to seeing the aftermath of stabbings so this was "bread & butter" to him and in the pub we talked about the "reality" of some of the injuries and whether anyone would survive them.
The point is that it's fiction and my survival instinct isn't very strong so I would have given up the ghost long before the school teacher "heroine" got all Rambo like and vigilante'esque. But nothing is quite as you'd expect in this film, so don't expect the good or blonde chick in flowery dress to necessarily conquer evil.
I can't see this film getting shown uncut in the US (I'm sure the British Tourist Board wouldn't be using it as an advert) and indeed James Watkins thought it would probably close at a scene about 15 minutes before it actually ended. It's a bleak relentless, vision of violence in the UK. The teenagers' parents are just as terrifying, nasty and vengeful as the kids. Think "Lord of the Flies" but with no moral to it. Or "Clockwork Orange" where Ludwig Van B, bowler hats and moloko are replaced by mobile phone "Happy Slapping" video'ing, hoodies and BMX bikes.
Thomas Turgoose from the new Eurostar sponsored, Shane Meadows film Somers Town is one of the teenage stars, but the main sinister & scary teenage lead is Jack O'Connell who plays the gang leader Brett. The final scene for me was definitely ambiguous and where O'Connell is really frightening.
Eden Lake is in cinemas nationwide from September 12th, and is from the producers of The Descent. If you like horror & thrillers it's worth seeing. If you're shocked by teenage violence, it's also worth seeing, although don't expect an answer or a moral stand on it all.