Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||James Watkins|
|Produced by||Christian Colson
|Written by||James Watkins|
|Music by||David Julyan|
|Editing by||Jon Harris|
Aramid Entertainment Fund
|Distributed by||Optimum Releasing (UK)
The Weinstein Company (US)
|Running time||91 minutes|
Nursery school teacher, Jenny (Kelly Reilly), and her boyfriend, Steve (Michael Fassbender), escape their everyday life to an idyllic remote lake in the green English countryside. Along the way, they meet Adam (James Gandhi), a young boy who is reluctant to talk with them. Attempting to relax near a beach, their trip is disrupted by the presence of delinquent teenagers and their dog, but Steve intends to stay and not be driven away from enjoying their vacation. After sleeping overnight in their tent, problems begin to arise; their food is infested with insects and their car tire becomes impaired by a bottle left behind by the teens. Despite this, they are able to fix the tire and set off for town for breakfast at a cafe.
After breakfast, as he is determined to report the unruly kids to their parents, Steve stops at a house hosting a group of bikes he thinks belongs to the kids. With zero response at the front door, he commits forcible entry, and he narrowly escapes out of a window before the homeowner, the father of one of the teenagers, returns. The couple quickly head back to the lake. There, Steve goes scuba diving and Jenny sleeps on the beach shore. Once Steve gets back from the beach, however, he realizes their beach bag containing his car keys, phone and wallet have gone missing. Instinctively, they check on the car, but it is gone. Returning to town on foot, they avoid collision with their car that is being driven recklessly by the gang through the woods, only stopping for gang leader, Brett (Jack O'Connell), to smirk at them.
During a confrontation with the gang at nightfall, Steve demands the return of his belongings which Brett acts in denial about. Once Steve's phone sounds off in Brett's pocket, a scuffle ensues leading to Steve mortally wounding Brett's dog with the gang's produced knife in the heated situation. This fuels Brett's lust for revenge after returning their car keys. Brett and his gang proceed to go after the couple, smashing their car windshield and headlights with rocks. Steve and Jenny are able to get free from a steep slope before eventually crashing into a tree branch. Steve, stuck in the branch that came through the windscreen, urges Jenny to run for help and she escapes, finding a place to hide and spend the night.
The next morning, a horrified Jenny finds Steve tied up in barbed wire in a small clearing. Goaded by Brett, the gang alternate torturing Steve with their knives, while Paige (Finn Atkins), the girl of the gang, records the event on her phone. To save Steve from his demise, Jenny uses her Bluetooth's GPS to connect with Steve's phone. Aware, Brett believes she is close by and orders the gang after her. Jenny flees to evade the gang, and Steve is given time to free himself, with Jenny gradually finding Steve severely injured. They hide themselves successfully at a shack where Jenny nurses his wounds and finds the wedding ring Steve planned to propose to her with. Soon, Jenny goes off on her own, leaving Steve concealed under leaves. Following the power lines, Jenny treads on a spike and hides, for fear her screams alerted the gang to her location. Coming across Adam, the boy she met in the beginning, she pleads to him for help, but he leads her to the gang who knock her out.
Jenny awakens to find herself and Steve, who has died, restrained and about to be set on fire by the gang. While Brett forces Adam to set the fire and Paige to film, Jenny is able to escape and is blackmailed to return to save Adam. Already far away, she watches on terrified as Adam is left to burn alive for his disobedience. Eventually Jenny finds a trail map to help her plot an escape and continues to evade the gang, killing Cooper (Thomas Turgoose), another one of them who appeared helpful. When the gang find the body, Brett is thrown into further rage and Paige runs away from him. Reaching a road, Jenny manages to hitchhike. She tells the driver she had been attacked. Worried, the driver explains he is looking for his brother, Ricky, another gang member who is also in the woods. The driver stops the van and exits, leaving the keys in the ignition. Jenny panics and steals the van, speeding off towards town and running over Paige in the process.
She makes it to town, crashing into a house's lawn. Jenny sees a party in progress in the backyard where she pleads for help and collapses. Awaking, she finds herself inside the house and is comforted by a woman. After observing, she discovers she is in Brett's house and heads to the washroom. At this point, Brett's father notices the van on his lawn. Finding no escape, Jenny arms herself with a razor. Commotion begins to build in the house and the washroom door in kicked open, as Jenny is confronted by Brett, his father, and party guests (some of who are seemingly parents of other gang members, including the waitress from the cafe Jenny and Steve were at). Jenny realizes that the gang's parents are just as murderous as their kids and they hide and protect them from prosecution. Brett's father orders Brett to his room violently, as he and another parent subdue Jenny and push her back into the bathroom. Upstairs, Brett shuts the door of his room and the sounds of Jenny's screams are blocked. He deletes the videos filmed on Paige's phone and slips on Steve's sunglasses to look into his mirror with a tough guy impersonation before he removes the shades, looks into the mirror, then looks directly at the camera.
- Kelly Reilly as Jenny
- Michael Fassbender as Steve
- Jack O'Connell as Brett
- James Gandhi as Adam
- Thomas Turgoose as Cooper
- Bronson Webb as Reece
- Shaun Dooley as Jon
- Finn Atkins as Paige
- Thomas Gill as Ricky
- James Burrows as Harry
Eden Lake received mostly positive reviews. According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film is rated as "fresh", with a score of 83% based on 23 reviews, summing up opinion as: "A brutal and effective British hoodie-horror that, despite the clichés, stays on the right side of scary."
Dennis Harvey reviewed the film for Variety and said that it was "an effectively harrowing Brit thriller-cum-horror pic," comparing it to Last House on the Left and Lord of the Flies. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw drew parallels with Deliverance, Straw Dogs and Blue Remembered Hills, and stated that "this looks to me like the best British horror film in years: nasty, scary and tight as a drum," concluding that the film was "exceptionally well made, ruthlessly extreme, relentlessly upsetting."
Other critics, however, have savaged the film, denouncing it as an incitement to class prejudice against working class people in Britain. The Sun condemned the film's "nasty suggestion that all working class people are thugs" while even the staunchly right wing Daily Telegraph concluded that "this ugly witless film expresses fear and loathing of ordinary English people". Left wing writer Owen Jones, in his book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class cites the film at length as an example of media demonisation of proletarian youth via the "Chav" stereotype. He comments, "Here was a film arguing that the middle classes could no longer live alongside the quasi-bestial lower orders." 
Eden Lake has been linked with other, roughly contemporaneous, films that deal with concerns over "Broken Britain" and a fear of "hoodies," including Harry Brown, The Disappeared, Summer Scars, Outlaw, The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael, Cherry Tree Lane and Heartless.
- Cinema of the United Kingdom
- Inbred, another British backwoods horror, James Burrows also acted in it
- "EDEN LAKE (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2013-05-04.
- "Eden Lake". British Film Institute. London. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
- "Eden Lake (2008)". Box Office Mojo. 2008-11-06. Retrieved 2012-02-18.
- "Horror Movie News | Exclusive Interview with the Director of 'Eden Lake' | ESplatter.com | The Guide to Horror Movies". ESplatter.com. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2012-02-18.
- "Interview Eden Lake: Writer-Director James Watkins". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2012-02-18.
- Eden Lake at Rotten Tomatoes
- Harvey, Dennis (November 3, 2008). "Variety Reviews - Eden Lake". Variety. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
- Bradshaw, Peter (September 12, 2008). "Film Review: Eden Lake". The Guardian. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
- Jones, Owen (2011). Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class. Verso. pp. 130–131. ISBN 1844678644.
- Graham, Jane (November 5, 2009). "Hoodies strike fear in British cinema". The Guardian. Retrieved August 21, 2011.