You will quite possibly hear quite a bit about 'Eden Lake' over the coming weeks as it ticks all the boxes for a bit of popular media controversy - in that it is probably the most disgusting film to have come out in a number of years.
Essentially American in terms of its style and influences, it attempts the classic horror trick of tapping into our fears of the unknown. What makes it different is that in this case the unknown is anti-social teenagers and uncultured ‘sub-suburban’ oiks.
Jenny (Reilly) and Steve (Fassbender) are annoying yuppies on a romantic weekend away. Stereotypical ‘beautiful people’, they drive a big 4x4, have a perfect relationship and are enjoying what appear to be a pair of perfect lives. The sense that these are people who are not used to having bad things happen to them is put across well.
Relaxing on a beach - beside the filled-in quarry Eden Lake - they are interrupted by a group of teenagers playing loud music, smoking and drinking. Steve, with Jenny in disapproving but also mildly proud mode, decides to confront them.
Predictably, they tell him to bugger off. And then slash his tyres. And, once he’s fixed it, they then steal his car. That night, Steve and Jenny run into the teenagers again. During a tussle between Steve and the leader of the teenage group (Gill), the group's dog is killed.
This is the jumping off point for what is quite frankly a horrendous series of events. Driven by naïve and frankly unbelievable peer pressure, the teenagers commit a series of disgusting, unspeakable acts involving knives and, at one point, a bonfire. It is simply a moral and ethical travesty - a disgusting story populated by disgusting scene after disgusting scene and with a disgusting conclusion.
Teenagers - the last minority it is possible to totally misrepresent without recrimination - are portrayed as animals.
I do not deny that horrific events such as those described in this film can and do occur, but it is wholly irresponsible to exploit the human capacity for depravity in the name of cheap thrills.
Ultimately - although it is technically well executed, at times clever, not least in terms of its use of the tropes of the horror genre, and basically well acted and directed - this is a cynical, exploitative, depressing, nasty little film.