Friday, January 22, 2010

Eden Lake

I can recall the exact date I first experienced James Watkins' Eden Lake (2008). It was the 22nd of March last year that I was so troubled by what I witnessed on the screen that I decided to write a letter to the editor of Rue Morgue magazine. I’ve copied the letter here, because I feel it gives a clear illustration of how I felt, and continue to feel, about this picture:

Dear Jovanka,
I’m trying to think of a way to begin this letter, but I guess I already have, so I’ll just get straight to the point. First off, I am a horror film junkie, and in most cases, the sicker the better in my opinion. I watch horror films to be disturbed, or turned on, or even just for a laugh, but I’ve never been moved the way I was tonight while viewing the film Eden Lake.

Personally, this film is by far one of the most important works of art I’ve experienced in years. Its message was so poignant and disturbing, yet so encouraging at the same time. I’m sure you’ve seen it and I wonder if you share my appreciation for such a responsible film. As I was watching I was hoping for some kind of a happy revenge-type ending, but instead I got one that will be stuck in my mind for days. It amazes me how such a visceral and suspenseful film can convey such a profound yet simple message while forcing its audience to question their own morals and responsibilities as parents, teachers, and role models to the generations after us. I was able to relate to the protagonist, myself majoring in elementary education. I consider myself one of the good guys—someone who’d rather influence the world around me positively—even though many would say I’m responsible for corrupting young minds through explicit and subversive music and art. I also have a ten month old to whom it is my duty to raise with a kind and compassionate heart. I have an understanding that if I love my child he will love others, and if I hurt my child he will most likely hurt others. This film, in my opinion, focuses on the consequences of a world where irresponsible adults fail to accept their roles in shaping a younger generation to do what is right and adhere to some kind of moral code. The future of our race really is in our children’s hands. It’s our job to make sure we’re teaching them compassion, character, and integrity. The true horror is that we ourselves don’t know compassion, character, or integrity. What I’m trying to say is that this film encouraged me to continue my studies and become a teacher to help mold young minds. Who knows? Their parents might be failing to do so.

Bravo to the director and writer for conveying an important message through art, and best of all horrific art. This is an intelligent film for social-minded people. Anyone with an awareness of horror that goes beyond boobs, blood, and beasts—though all three elements are definite perks—should check out Eden Lake and hopefully be encouraged to accept responsibility for those who are younger and more impressionable. Either that or just stop reproducing.
Yours truly,
Joseph Whiteford

1 comment:

  1. Holy shit Joe!
    Just flicking through some of your old posts before heading off to bed and the title Eden Lake jumped out at me. I finished watching this movie a couple of nights ago, if you dig hard enough you can find my Tweets about it during and after, but what a film!!! Is life like that in the US? Because I've never seen anything closer to the bone about lie here in the UK, seriously. Murderous rampages aside the film-makers captured British youth brilliantly (and incidentally you should now watch This Is England to get another picture of British youth in the 80s, it's really illuminating and fun).
    I work in a public library and go out of my way to work with teenagers, running reading groups for young people, and I relate to teenagers really well, hell I'm only 28 (!), but Eden Lake really captures the distance between us all, the generational gap, the gap in ability, opportunity, deprivation, hope...
    This is what horror should be about. Watching Eden Lake made me want to die, in a good way!