Various scenes and sequences in Eden Lake are shocking and during the screening two separate audience members got up and left. The deserting of individuals during a horror film can indicate the quality of the film; I like to think it's a good thing. I questioned one of the people that left and they told me that they found one particular scene too much to handle. The scene in question involved the goading of a teenager into committing an act of violence by a dominant youth. The beauty of Eden Lake lies in the fact that it takes root in the very essence of horror; it shows a world that is real and accessible; unlike a world of goblins, ghouls and zombies. The film is blatant in its attempt at tapping into contemporary societal fears; it investigates our fears of alienated youth and brutally incorporates that fear to expose our suppressed anxieties. Eden Lake depicts a world that is strikingly pertinent to the one in which live, making the film that much more disturbing. This is heightened by the scene in which we meet the parents; furthermore the ending is a chilling metaphor for "like father, like son".
People have drawn similarities to "Last House on the Left" but it reminds me of, among others, the films "A Clockwork Orange" and "La Haine" and although the gangs in those films were more organized all those films reveal a fringe of society that some of us choose to ignore, but that we all fear, and know, to exist. Eden Lake also had me thinking of many of the early 70's and 80's horrors that were often disturbing and shocking. Unfortunately Eden Lake isn't as good as those films of 30 years ago as I believe it to be too reserved. Examples of this lie in its treatment of racism - it's left up to the audience to decide, as nothing racist is muttered by any of the youths, only tenuously and cowardly alluded to by the filmmakers. The film also makes no real attempt to delve into the world of sexual humiliation or sexual torture, common place in many of the real-life crimes depicted in this film and often portrayed in many of the infamous horrors of previous decades. The language of the youths isn't that shocking, with their dialogue resembling some of the latter episodes of Grange Hill.
Despite my gripes Eden Lake is a brave film, but it does on some occasions resort to clichés and cheap plot tactics. Several times I found myself questioning the behavior and motivation of various characters, which was a shame because it distanced me from the film thus leading to me feeling too removed. The acting isn't bad and I'm sure we'll see more of all of those on show, the script is OK but some of the dialogue is waning in parts.
Eden Lake has been cited by some as a Daily Mail headline waiting to happen, something that beautifully and aptly sums it up. Although Eden Lake will not cause the controversy it deserves it will hopefully instill other filmmakers to raise the bar and push the envelope further. After all, it is only a horror film, and it fits that mould very well. If you are unsure of what constitutes horror or that recent horrors have deviated from the real-deal then go see it. Additionally, if you like to feel angry, upset and perhaps even fearful after seeing a horror then Eden Lake is the movie for you, ultimately it's a fine addition to the genre.