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CUB (review)

Review by Todd Sokolove
aka, Welp
Produced by Peter De Maegd
Written by Jonas Govaerts
Roel Mondelaers
Directed by Jonas Govaerts
Starring Stef Aerts, Evelien Bosmans,
Titus De Voogdt, Maurice Luijten,
Gill Eeckelaert, Jan Hammenecker
Available on DVD & Blu-ray from Artsploitation Films

I need to come clean about my scouting experience.

The worst thing that ever happened to me in Cub Scouts was having my mom as Den Mother. There’s no merit badge in humiliation, but I’m pretty sure I earned it with each meeting.

Boy Scouts, in which I stopped cold-turkey at Tenderfoot status, was a more life-threatening experience.

I brought only one pair of socks on a Winter “survival” camping trip, which were soaked in icy-cold lake water after falling through thin ice.

Nothing in my scouting days compares to the ultra-horror in the new Belgian horror film Cub (Welp), though it wasn’t without nostalgia.

Conceptually, it’s a great film. One part Lord of the Flies, one part Moonrise Kingdom and a lot part The Hills Have Eyes (may Wes Craven rest in peace).

The film’s tone, and certainly its chutzpah, is more on the Italian horror side. The score is certainly an homage to it (with a great in-joke to Goblin’s Suspiria score in one scene), and the level of violence is pure Grand Guignol.

Take caution on that last note. Though there’s a cast of kids to carry much of the set-up, the film doesn’t shy away from going there. It’s a dark tale of survival, revenge, and the thin line between animal instinct and human restraint.

Disappointingly, Cub spends a lot of time in the set-up, with a fairly vague backstory only peppered by an occasional Sleepaway Camp kill. Broken down, it’s a simple cabin-in-the-woods scenario, but by the time you get to the finale, there’s a little too much cliché and not enough twist.

Still, the cast, especially the ensemble of kids, is very strong. Tech is strong, with some beautiful low-lit cinematography from Nicolas Karakatsanis (The Drop, The Loft).

If you’re looking for something dark, gory and nihilistic, then gather round the camp-fire.

This camper was left wanting s’mores.

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