*WARNING: Contains Spoilers*
Sometimes a film just loses you and 'Cub' lost me at the end. Unfortunately this makes it very difficult to explain why I ultimately didn’t like the film without ruining the ending, so to compromise the next four paragraphs are spoiler free but beyond that I’m going to make no effort at all.
There’s a relatively typical “Lord of the Flies” dynamic amongst the kids with Sam being the token outsider with a nerdy friend who are picked on by a bully on a power trip. Sam seeks out and befriends the feral child at first, which has the potential to lead the plot in an interesting direction, but the story is basically just a ticking clock to the slaughter, which once it kicks in is inventive but feels inconsequential and is actually a little ridiculous in retrospect.
Here’s the last spoiler free paragraph. This film was very strange for me. About halfway through it was looking at a strong 4 out of 5, strong characters, intriguing mystery, terrifying villain, some clever kills, and then it started to drag... It wasn’t clear where it was going, aside from nowhere fast, and it fell to a 3. And then the final scene ran and it was almost immediately a 2. As I’ve said, the film is pretty solid up until this disappointing ending, so if you want to risk it then consider this a 4 out of 4 rating with the caveat that I hate the end and I can’t explain why without completely ruining it for you. Consider this fair warning.
There’s a trend in horror movies that I really want to campaign against and that’s the belief that an ambiguous or bleak ending is somehow automatically clever, and it really really really isn’t. Now we can all agree that 'Rosemary’s Baby' is a classic and films like 'The Stepford Wives', 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' or the more recent 'Se7en' are all the smarter for their bleaker endings but somehow it has become acceptable to think that simply being obtuse or depressing makes you clever.
You know what else are good films, 'The Exorcist', 'The Shining', 'Jaws' and a host of other horror movies that have respect for story structure. Now you don’t need to spoon feed your audience all the details of your plot, but at the absolute bare minimum as a filmmaker you have to know the details of your plot yourself, and I’m not convinced stories like this aren’t just being abstract for abstractions sake. That doesn’t work for me. For one thing it’s lazy, and at this point in a horror film it’s cliché not clever, regardless of the message you think you are conveying.
I’ve said before that there’s a fine line between artistic and messy and there’s an even finer line between meaningful and nonsense. I get the impression the filmmakers thought they were saying something with this ending but they’ve ended up with a meaningless mess as far as I’m concerned. The horror genre is not the only culprit of this but it’s certainly the biggest offender.
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