Monday, August 10, 2015

Cub (2015)

Director: Jonas Govaerts
Notable Cast: Maurice Luijten, Stef Aerts, Titus De Voogdt, Evelien Bosmans

We have seen our fair share of films with young outcasts many times. Main characters whom are belittled, teased, bullied, and beaten to a pulp for their differences from the average boy. But we have never seen it quite like Cub. Director Jonas Govaerts has created an almost fairy tale like horror film revolving around young 12 year old misfit Sam (played by Maurice Luijten) for his first feature after dabbling with television and shorts. The backwoods horror film gets turned on its head here where instead of a hillbilly killer chasing down a bunch of sex craved teenagers, our protagonists are mostly children and our villains look nothing like insane country bumpkins. Can this story of modern folklore prove true enough to wow audiences or will it fall flat on its face? While not 100% fresh, there is enough substance to say that it is absolutely not the latter. There is a dark presence in the woods and Cub is ready to bear its teeth.

Cub starts us off with Sam rushing to make it in time to a boy scouts trip. The imaginative young boy, always last to line up with his fellow scouts, is the outcast in the group with only one friend who fears the wrath of the other scouts if seen too often with him. We are then treated to the scout leaders (played by Stef Aerts and Titus De Voogdt) telling a mythical tale of Kai, a werewolf boy that prowls the woods in search of victims at night. It is well indicated on the way to the campsite that Sam definitely believes in the tale. On the way, one of the leader’s girlfriends (played by Evelien Bosmans) gets picked up as the group’s cook. Upon arriving at the site, they decide to pitch up tent deeper in the woods thanks to a run in with some French hoodlums. Our characters might find themselves regretting the decision however since there is a lot more truth to the story than fiction...

I found Cub to be quite unique as we are treated to a film with enough violence and the unusual feature of finding the protagonist to be a child. Govaerts does a good job with making us sympathize with Sam while learning with time to spot those that prey on him. It isn’t always the villains in the woods either. As individuals outside of the boy scouts pack get picked off by a mysterious man and his young fairy tale figure, Sam’s curiosity takes the viewer around to some interesting places. While Cub is mostly a serious film, there is still comic relief here and there which isn’t overbearing and is definitely welcome. With time we see Sam evolve from a picked on kid to a survivor willing to fight to help the scouts and his own life. While the feature spots some great violence, a lot of the thrills come from the traps. This is more than just your average bear trap but it’s so complicated that you can expect a whole Rube Goldberg machine laid out in the forest and they’re quite entertaining. Maurice Luijten does a great job and the rest of the cast isn’t too shabby either. You might find yourself pulling your teeth out with some the decisions made by some of our characters as they are not always the brightest. It doesn’t happen frequently so we can easily forgive Govaerts... thankfully.

Overall Cub was not a very memorable film, but the good news is that it was an enjoyable one. We always want to get a good look at the mysterious and animalistic Kai and his owner as they get rid of the intruders in some common or creative ways. Belgium has been continuing to grace us with their fair share of horror after films like The Pack and The Ordeal (Calvaire) and horror fans are ready for a second helping. Cub teaches us that sometimes we can prove to be more than just a victim and to beware because sometimes even the most improbable of fables and urban legends have some truth to them.

Written By Elise Holmes

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