Capital Celluloid - Day 232: Monday August 22

Eden Lake (Watkins, 2008) & This Is My Land (Rivers, 2006): Roxy Bar & Screen, 7.30pm

This is part of the Scala Forever season, a programme of 111 films at 26 venues through to October 2 that will celebrate the wonderful Scala cinema at King's Cross which closed in 1993. Here is an article I wrote in the Guardian on the history of the cinema and the season and here are the details of all the movies and special events on offer, via the Scala Forever website.

This is a production from Passenger Films, a new film enterprise, made up of researchers and film fans, which brings hot topics from cultural geography to the film-going communities of London. You can read about this innovative film club here.

The Roxy introduction to tonight's screening: "If you go down to the woods today . . . . as part of the Scala Forever season, Passenger Films is tackling backwoods cinema, with this screening of 'Eden Lake' (a violent ordeal set in a chav-infested quarry in a British forest, described by The Guardian as 'relentlessly upsetting') and Ben Rivers' short film 'This is My Land' (a hand-processed portrait of Jake Williams, who lives alone and self-sufficiently within miles of forest in Aberdeenshire, Scotland). We will also be showing an extract from the 2003 live episode of 'Most Haunted!', in which the TV crew get lost in Epping Forest in search of Dick Turpin's ghost and have to be rescued by park rangers.

Speakers will include Carl Griffin, who works on the link between forestry and spaces of dissidence, Owain Jones, author of 'Tree Cultures: the Place of Trees and Trees in Their Place', and Judith Tsouvalis, author of 'A Critical Geography of Britain's State Forests'. We'll be talking about the idyllic and the feral connotations of the British woodland on screen. Ben Rivers is hoping to come and introduce his film, and Stella Hockenhull is hoping to come and introduce 'Eden Lake', having written about it in her recent book, 'Sublime Landscapes in Contemporary British Horror: The Last Great Wilderness and Eden Lake'."

Time Out review of Eden Lake:

'This fierce, thought-provoking ‘survival horror’ movie from ‘My Little Eye’ co-writer James Watkins sounds like a tabloid headline: Lovers’ Lakeside Hoody Horror. The romantic peace of Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender’s remote idyll is shattered by a gang of kids with a loud beat-box and a boisterous Rottweiler. Verbal confrontations escalate into knife-wielding violence, then the couple are hunted and tortured in the surrounding woods.

This is not, however, a Daily Mail rant about feral chavs. Instead, Watkins uses stomach-knotting tension and tongue-slicing horror to explore the complex dynamics of anti-social violence. We identify with the victims throughout, but Watkins also depicts the complex peer-group pressures within the gang  and the pain and confusion behind its leader’s eyes. The film’s one major fault is that Reilly’s character repeatedly acts in ways that serve the plot, but which run contrary to rational human behaviour. By contrast, the shattering downbeat ending is well earned and genuinely shocking.'
Nigel Floyd

Here is the trailer.

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