Tag Archives: Cub

They Could Have Been More Prepared


by Hope Madden

Does this story sound familiar? Friends head into the woods, run into some trouble finding their exact camping spot, settle for an “almost right” spot, tell campfire stories about a lurker in the bushes, and die.

If it doesn’t sound familiar, you are new.

So why, then, is Cub (Welp) immediately scarier than other campground slashers?

Because they’re all little kids.

That is correct. It’s a group of wee Belgian scouts out on their big camping excursion into the wrong damn woods.

Co-writer/director Jonas Govaerts uses that small twist to build a lot of tension as imaginative little Sam (Maurice Luijten) – a boy with an uncertain yet tragic past – believes the campfire tales of Kai, a feral boy who hunts the nearby woods.

Govaerts knows how to wring anxiety as he unveils character, beginning with a group countdown as Sam sprints to try to make the truck that’s leaving for camp. Then there’s a run in with unfriendly French hoods claiming the right to the original camp site, not to mention the inner-troop skirmishes for hierarchy. Childhood is tough, tribalism is brutal, and camping in the woods is just plain stupid. If you don’t know that, again, you are new. No one survives the woods.

Most of the film’s success is due to the strong performances, particularly from Luijten, who is equal parts adorable, earnest, and impressionable. The adult cast is solid enough in a film that knows its territory and agrees to do what it can without redefining anything.

Which, of course, is also Cub’s biggest weakness.

Though Govaerts foreshadows quite well, and his camera captures both the wonder and terror of the woods, he can’t entirely overcome the template he’s chosen for his film. The entire effort just feels too familiar.

That doesn’t make the film an outright disappointment, either. There are bright, gnarly moments here and there. Govaerts just can’t finally deliver all the goods.


Fright Club: It Follows and Anticipated Horror of 2015

David Robert Mitchell invites you to the best American horror film in years.

It Follows is a coming of age tale that mines a primal terror. Moments after a sexual encounter with a new boyfriend, Jay discovers that she is cursed. He has passed on some kind of entity – a demonic menace that will follow her until it either kills her or she passes it on to someone else the same way she got it.

Yes, it’s the STD or horror movies, but don’t let that dissuade you. Mitchell understands the anxiety of adolescence and he has not simply crafted yet another cautionary tale about premarital sex.

Mitchell has captured that fleeting yet dragging moment between childhood and adulthood and given the lurking dread of that time of life a powerful image. There is something that lies just beyond the innocence of youth. You feel it in every frame and begin to look out for it, walking toward you at a consistent pace, long before the characters have begun to check the periphery themselves.

Mitchell’s provocatively murky subtext is rich with symbolism but never overwhelmed by it. His capacity to draw an audience into this environment, this horror, is impeccable and the result is a lingering sense of unease that will have you checking the perimeter for a while to come.

What else are we looking forward to this year? Here’s a quick list:


Crimson Peak

Final Girl

Let Us Prey

Goodnight Mommy