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Nursery teacher Jenny and her boyfriend Steve, escape for a romantic weekend away. Steve, planning to propose, has found an idyllic setting: a remote lake enclosed by woodlands and seemingly deserted. The couple's peace is shattered when a gang of obnoxious kids encircles their campsite. Reveling in provoking the adults, the gang steals the couple's belongings and vandalizes their car leaving them completely stranded. When Steve confronts them, tempers flare and he suffers a shocking and violent attack. Fleeing for help, Jenny is subject to a brutal and relentless game of cat-and-mouse as she desperately tries to evade her young pursuers and find her way out of the woods. Written by
This gruelling, invigorating, sensational tour de force is an instant classic. It takes most of its cues from the much-revered smash-mouth genre prototypes of the 1970's; its whole-hog relentlessness, its shrewd, methodical plotting; both are pure, vintage Wes Craven, and praise doesn't come much higher than that.
It's a thoroughly old-school experience from beginning to end. The much-discussed topicality turns out to be nothing more than simple provocation, and the whole thing is shamelessly, rigorously manipulative, in that brilliant way that horror films used to be. When I wasn't squirming in my seat, I was trying to stop myself from yelling at the screen (a process that I like to refer to as "decision derision") which is the kind of impassioned, joyous impulse that I haven't succumbed to in a cinema in years.
But make no mistake, this is ferociously, unflinchingly hardcore. It is frequently nasty in ways that go straight for the gut, and bears no relation to the f*ckwitted idiocy that Hollywood now regularly churns out disguised as something challenging or extreme. If you thought that Hostel was tough, think twice before buying a ticket.
Eden Lake may not have the rich subtext or cultural significance of Craven's seminal 1970's output, but it does unmistakably have that same raw cynicism, energy and sense of purpose.
This is easily the finest pure horror movie since Switchblade Romance, and is absolutely not to be missed.
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