Plot: Steve (Michael Fassbender) and his girlfriend Jenny (Kelly Reilly) have plans for a secluded, romantic weekend in the countryside, just the two young lovers and the great outdoors. He even plans to propose, so it will be a weekend that will never be forgotten, which is just how it turns out. As soon as the couple arrives, they run into a group of loud, crass youths, some teens and some younger, causing all kinds of noise and trouble, even in the woods. While Jenny wants to just leave, Steve insists on asking them to turn down the noise, to which they respond with disrespect and threats. Unable to let the kids mistreat him and his beloved, Steve pushes the issue and soon, it leads to a constant escalation. Steve tries to get the kids’ parents involved to no avail, which in turn leads to the teens taking more drastic measures. As tensions mount and the escalation continues, how far will this cat & mouse game be pushed?
Entertainment Value: This is a nasty thriller that has a tense, no nonsense narrative and an eerie, violent atmosphere. I do wish the movie wasn’t so squeamish at times, at it seems to want to deliver a dark, visceral vision, but reels things in too often and rarely lets the camera gaze upon the horrific moments. So while it is a tense movie with some real bite, it could have been a brutal, unforgettable experience, but it takes a more tame approach for some reason. The story is a simple one, but the use of broken, almost feral kids is what makes Eden Lake stand out from other survival type horror flicks. This isn’t some lunatic on the rampage, but some slow children and teens, which shifts the entire dynamic, especially after some late reveals. The pace is fast and mostly relentless, with little tension relief at all, even in moments where safety is found, if only for a few ever brief seconds. The cast is good, with Michael Fassbender and Kelly Reilly in the leads, with Reilly doing most of the heavy lifting and she provides an interesting take on this kind of role. The various teens and kids are effective as well, just as sadistic, cruel, and stupid as the roles demand. This is a well crafted, intense thriller and while it loses its nerve at times, it is still well recommended.
A brief limp dick waggle is all the nakedness here, as the sex scenes are tame and show no naked flesh. There is certainly the blade of sexual violence hanging over the entire survival/hunt elements, but no real sleaze in this one. This one has a very violent tone and atmosphere, but in truth, not a lot of visceral, on screen violence is shown. So bloodshed is limited mostly to a scene of prolonged torture, as well as a few assorted bits and pieces of trauma. The splinter through the foot scene is rather brutal, but the camera tends to cut away just before most of the implied horrific elements. A lot of blood is all over the characters and often disappears and reappears, which is humorous, but again, not much kinetic, graphic violence here. But a few potent moments do still surface, so it earns a few points. The dialogue is limited to some anti-bullying rhetoric and some tough kid talk, as well as some epic bad parent discussions. Not a lot stands out, but it is well written for what it is. As for craziness, this one is nasty, but does what you’d expect from the genre, just with the kids twist to sharpen the edge.
Overall Insanity: 1/10