I was chatting to my good buddy and fellow-traveller Clive the other night about his reaction to this year’s Frightfest. One film he picked out for particular opprobrium was Eden Lake, a Brit horror where the enemy are a gang of twelve-year-old boys.
The phrase he used was “Daily Mail horror.”
It’s starting to look like feral children will be the next big thing in horror. Apart from Eden Lake, Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers has just appeared in cinemas, which owes a fair debt to French shocker Them.
One thing all three share is a strong connection to exploitation cinema. Both The Strangers and Them claim to be “based on true events”. Based is a very loose term, and any claim that either film is a true representation of society today (which is something The Fail will jump all over, hence Clive’s displeasure) should be laughed and pointed at until it picks up it’s ball and goes home in a huff. Exploitation cinema has always taken the easy path to getting people into the picturehouse – grab a headline or two, wrap it in a hysterical plotline and get it out fast. This time next year there’ll be a spate of child abduction horrors, and of course again the papers will carry on the symbiotic relationship, and we’ll be told that this is a symptom of a sick and collapsing society.
Just like the hippies and bikers in the sixties, the teddy boys in the 50s, the jazzers in the 30s, gangsters in the 20s, and so on and so forth. We always fear that which we cannot understand, and that’s what crappy papers like the Daily Fail, and crappy horrors like Eden Lake are counting on in the quest for a fast profit.
What bothers me more is the appearance of Thomas Turgoose, who’s been a revelation in Shane Meadow’s This Is England and the new Somers Town. Both these films are a purer and more accurate representation of British youth than any number of cheap exploitationers or hysterical op-eds. Having him and the wonderful Kelly Reilly in the cast give the film a gravitas that it doesn’t really deserve.
As a horror film, it works just fine. As an indictment of British youth, it’s up there with Village of The Damned in the realism stakes.