Director: Jonas Govaerts
Screenplay: Jonas Govaerts and Roel Mondelaers
Starring: Maurice Luijten, Gill Eeckelaert, Evelien Bosmans, Titus De Voogdt
Running Time: 82 mins
BBFC Classification: 18
Beginning and ending with a bloodied young woman being chased through some woods by vicious assailants, Cub is back-to-basics Flemish horror and none the worse for it.
Sam, an imaginative but vulnerable twelve year old boy, heads off to cub camp, in the French woods, with his Cub Scout troupe. Apart from one other nerdy boy, Sam is disliked by the rest of the pack and also by the two male scout leaders. Sensing that his background is troubled they all tend to distrust him and regularly bully him for kicks. And when the group are forced, by the French equivalent of chavs, to move from their intended camp site and into a wilderness area where disappearances are common, the group distrusts poor old Sam even more, especially when things start to go missing from the campsite.
On one of his lonely wanderings Sam comes across a very organic-looking tree-house and it’s there that he encounters the person who has been half-inching their stuff – a masked boy of about the same age as Sam, who only grunts and seems more animal-like than human.
Things steadily get weirder as more stuff goes missing, Sam is caught beating a scout leader’s dog to death, and nasty murders are committed by a strange man who seems to have some sort of control over the feral boy. Soon sides are taken and only those who choose the strongest side are likely to survive…
I’ve been rather vague here with regard to plot details as I don’t really want to give too much away since I think one’s overall enjoyment of Cub will be increased the less you actually know about the film ‘going in’, so to speak.
Writer/director Govaerts has created a nicely warped world that kind of answers the question of what would happen if the cast of Stand by Me were dumped into Lord of the Flies territory, but with an added psychopath on the loose, thrown in for good measure! Govaerts also allows the relationship between Sam and the masked kid, Kai, to grow and one is lulled into a false sense of security, for a brief period, where you think everything is going to work out fine. Sam has finally found a friend, even if that friend is a thief and a killer!
Cub is nicely shot, with some cool drone (helicopter?) shots early on, following the scout’s truck as it meanders through the forest to its final destination. There’s also an excellent John Carpenteresque score to accompany the fine visuals. In fact the director has stated, in interviews, that Carpenter is a big influence so the music score should be of no surprise to anyone.
There’s also some interesting group dynamics to be experienced and, it has to be said, these scouts are not like the one’s I remember from when I was a similar age at cub camp. For a start none of our cub leaders would have sworn profusely or shagged in front of us!
Govaerts has also seeded his film with various horror references including calling the cop (for the forest area) ‘Officer Franju’, and the scout leader’s dog, ‘Zoltan’; oh, and having the cop’s phone ring-tone as being from an Argento movie – Suspiria, I think.
Cub sees a horror fan creating a film made for fellow horror fans and there’s nought wrong with that. Although I did figure out what was going to happen before it did, I still enjoyed the journey to get there, so thanks Jonas.
Cub has recently been released on DVD and is being distributed by Altitude Film UK. Extras include a short, also by Jonas Govaerts, called ‘Of Cats and Women’ (12 mins), which sees a jealous woman go crazy and take revenge on her now ex’s cat, and later, on his new squeeze. There’s also a rather long trailer for Cub, a VFX breakdown featurette (3 mins), demonstrating how some of the graphics effects shots were achieved and, finally, a music video by the ‘Deadshots’ for a song called ‘One Hour’, which features some weirdo wandering around brutally killing people.