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Cub

Cub

Released 31 July 2015
Director Jonas Govaerts
Starring





Maurice Luijten, Evelien Bosmans, Titus De Voogdt, Stef Aerts, Jan Hammenecker, Gill Eeckelaert, Noa Tambwe Kabati, Ricko Otto, Louis Lemmens, Thomas De Smet
Writer(s) Jonas Govaerts
Producer(s) Peter De Maegd
Origin Belgium
Running Time 84 minutes
Genre Horror, adventure
Rating TBC
50

Campfire carnage.

Directing a horror film can be a tricky process if you’re a horror fan. Intimate knowledge of the genre can lead to amazing creativity (subverting cliches and reinventing stereotypes) but can also lead to some self-satisfied navel gazing. Jonas Govaerts, writer/director of Cub, is clearly a horror fan - he even uses the theme to Dario Argento’s Suspiria as a ringtone during the film. With this in mind, the fact that he has chosen to set his film in a creepy wood, one of the hoariest tropes of the genre, is a bold move. In order to make the film truly frightening, some original thinking was going to be essential. Sadly, like sausages grilled over a travel stove, Govearts’ ideas are a little half-cooked.

The film focuses on a young boy named Sam, a quiet but imaginative boy who, it is rumoured, has had a violent childhood. Sam is a member of a scout troupe but is ridiculed and isolated by his fellow members. On a weekend camping trip, Sam becomes convinced that a campfire legend is true - that a sprite named Kai lives in the woods, entering the camp at night to cause mischief. Unbeknownst to the Scout leaders, Sam is correct...but Kai is more threatening than the myths would suggest.

At first, it seemed that Cub was heading in an interesting direction, moving the ‘cabin in the woods’ terror experience away from the usual sex-crazed teenagers to adolescent boys; Evil Dead rushing headlong into Lord of the Flies. Maurice Luijten has an eerie presence as Sam and makes for a genuinely intriguing hero. Where the film begins to fall apart however, is in its choice of villains. Kai himself is a wonderfully realised apparition - a feral masked boy played with physical elegance by Gill Eeckelaert. Unfortunately, Gouvaerts shows a lack of confidence in Kai as a movie monster. Rather than keeping it simple, he throws another villain into the mix - a Wile E Coyote type brute who enjoys rigging up elaborate traps in the woods just in case anyone strolls by. His relation to Kai remains an unsatisfactory mystery, as does his presence in the woods.

As the finale descends into the typical ‘last girl’ scenario, the overwhelming feeling I had was that of a missed opportunity. What could have been an interesting twist on an old cliche became muddled, unsatisfying and pedestrian.

- Linda O’Brien