Psychedelic Film Criticism for the Already Deranged

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Honeymoons of Terror! EDEN LAKE (2008) and A PERFECT GETAWAY (2009)


Who loves movies about rich douchebags in love? Not us! But what if said bags take their trusting, materialistic new wives or girlfriends off to the woods or some remote beach to get away from it all, and then maybe pop the question or have a honeymoon? Nope. But what if they get chased, murdered, tortured and eaten and deprived of cellular phone service once at said remote area? Everybody loves that! Eat 'em up!

See, the thing is, these hidden woodsy places ain't like our  protagonists remembered from their privileged youths; times are always getting tougher, and poor people settle into the fissures and dead ends and gutted Wal-Marts the rich leave in their wake as they chomp chomp up the world. Soon abandoned for bigger spaces, these Wal-Marts, gnarly woods, nuclear fall-out zones, and isolated beaches (forgotten or not yet chomped) become infested with inbred, torture-lovin', meth-smokin' animals.

In other words, in their misguided bid for 'a little adventure' the protagonist couple--douchebag and trophy, if you will--find more than they bargained for, something not covered in an aisle of Home Depot or Bed, Bath and Beyond. Whether they fight back or cower all the way to the grave will depend on the script God gave them, but in the meantime, man, break that champagne bottle, for a jagged champagne bottle edge is a fine weapon! And damn but I got a slow-burn smitten on the Eve Mendez-meets-Ava Gardner hottie on the left (Kiele Sanchez), who gives Milla a literal run for the money in A PERFECT GETAWAY (2009).

Timothy Olyphant and Steve Zahn co-star as the boyfriends, and there's more screwy twists and turns for both than the Union Square subway station but it's filmed in Hawaii and the scenery looks good and om--om-shakti--you can vibe on rainbows and lush vegetation instead of the heated rush hour throngs outside the Exit sign of your own New York.

Movies are more than an escape, they are an escape without consequences; no cannibal or street thug can follow you home through the screen, so they're a safe alternative to physical travel. They give you a round tour of the paradise you might want to see... sometime, and leave you knowing you're better off where you are, close to the dream screen and with lots of locks on the doors. What was it Carol Clover said? Something about the land being raped by the gov'ment so the land rapes back via its dirt-poor rednecks? I'm glad both these films forego that kind of rough sexual assault stuff and stick to straight up killin' and maimin', as the good lord intended. Frankly, I loved PERFECT GETAWAY, but my expectations were rock bottom as I think I was confusing it with reviews I'd read of TURISTAS. So if you've never seen it, presume it lame and let it take you on its almost too "perfect" thrill-away... a horror film where characters actually make smart decisions!

 

Nothing could have prepared me, then, for the genius of EDEN LAKE (2008) an Australian shocker that aims high, clear above the usual WRONG TURN elements, and into STRAW DOGS territory, keeping a smattering of the old ultra-torture porn, with the heroes having a substantial hand in the evening's violent escalations and yet nothing getting as full-blown traumatizing as WOLF CREEK, thanks to, again, no sexual violence. Yes, the shock ending is downbeat, but not depressing, if you're worried about that sort of thing, and I was. If something's too ugly it can take me months to recover. So don't worry, it's all about family and the kids being all right, and a little burning and barbed wire as it creeps quietly out of the muck of exploitation and into the realm of social commentary so stealthily it's at your throat before you know it. And don't act like you don't got it comin', eh?


On the other hand. I love WRONG TURN too! And HILLS HAVE EYES and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW remake for that matter. I mean, why not? If you're going to order a steak dinner, don't enjoy your meal and then act shocked when you learn what people had to "do" to certain living creatures for the flesh to reach you. If I ran the world, you'd need a special "killer club" card to eat meat, and the dues would entail two days of slaughterhouse work a year... just enough for everyone to be a little less hypocritical when they weep for the beautiful soulful eyes of a sheep, then go into a magic dinnertime black-out until the bones are off the table. You'll know what I mean..  in the words of the great Bertolt Brecht: "For once you must try to face the facts / mankind is kept alive by bestial acts."

And hotties.

2 comments:

  1. As long as the 'hotties' include sexy young (or sexy older, why not?) gay men, I'm fine with that. Thanks for the Brechtian apothegm, and for reminding me why I avoid meat in my diet!
    And Eden Lake, plus Wolf Creek, are the only two movies from the last decade that I can truthfully say I admired very much but don't feel I want to re-visit any time soon.

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  2. Oh, and btw. Eden Lake is NOT Australian. It's British, through and through.

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