Eden Lake

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LONDON -- British director James Watkins' "Eden Lake" has the trappings of a low-IQ thriller but it's really a contemptible tract feeding the prejudices of the U.K.'s rightwing tabloids that claim the country is overrun by teenagers wielding knives.

Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender, both bright new British performers, suffer foul indignities as a naive middle-class couple on a camping weekend near a deserted lake. Shane Meadows regulars Jack O'Connell and Thomas Turgoose are among a gang of lowlife teenagers who terrorize them with deadly intent.

Released in the U.K. by Optimum, the picture has been picked up by the Weinstein Company for distribution in the United States. But lacking any motivation for the characters' actions and with not a shred of redemption, the picture's shameful purpose is unlikely to make much of a mark on audiences beyond those wanting to see some special effects detailing gashed and bleeding flesh.

Made slickly but full of plot holes and ludicrous behavior, the film focuses morbidly on the damage that sharp blades can do to the human body. A key scene involves a beaten man tied to a post with barbed wire being stabbed in turn by maddened juveniles brandishing assorted knives and cutters.

If Watkins was aiming for anything resembling "Deliverance" or "Straw Dogs," his pandering characterization of the British working class as bovine, venal and heartless misses the mark by a country mile.

Production company: Rollercoaster Films
Cast: Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender, Jack O'Connell, Thomas Turgoose
Director, screenwriter: James Watkins
Producers: Christian Colson, Richard Holmes
Director of photography: Christopher Ross
Production designer: Simon Bowles
Music: David Julyan
Costume designer: Keith Madden
Editor: Jon Harris
No rating, 91 minutes

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