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article imageReview: ‘Cub’ earns its horror badge Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 15, 2014 in Entertainment
‘Cub’ takes the archetypal slasher movie and warps it into an unhinged fight for survival against a clever monster and his acolyte.
When children are taken on organized trips into the woods, their chaperones often tell them scary campfire tales that are ironically supposed to help them sleep. But when the overseers do not heed warnings about local legends or dangers, the results tend to be fatal. Cub manipulates this structure to make a film that initially appears familiar before twisting it into a deranged version of the conventional narrative.
Sam (Maurice Luijten) doesn't fit in with most of the other kids, but being a Cub is a good social activity for him. This weekend is the big camping trip and all the kids are excited. However when they arrive at their designated camp ground they find it's been occupied by a couple of hooligans. Choosing to avoid a conflict, they find a different patch of unoccupied land deeper in the woods and set-up camp. But this area is rumoured to be cursed and may not be the safest of locations.
Not really a traditional slasher flick, the movie begins with the legend of the Kai, or werewolf. When Sam encounters a feral child near his age in the woods, he assumes he's the source of the tale and tries to befriend him. But the boy is not the most predatory human hiding in the trees. There’s someone hunting people in the forest, using sophisticated traps and an alert system.
The traps are one of the most ingenious aspects of the picture. A series of trip wires and lures with varying levels of lethalness litter the wooded area, waiting for an unsuspecting victim. A large tree is rigged to fall, crushing anything in its path. A baby cries ceaselessly in the forest, waiting for someone to stumble on its location. The best and most unique is the false promise of assistance achieved by the illusion of a nearby road.
The story of an outcast that befriends a strange boy gives way to a fight for survival against an experienced hunter and his protégé. However, there is still one more twist to the story that has the audience guessing until the last moment.
Cub screened in the Midnight Madness programme at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
Director: Jonas Govaerts
Starring: Maurice Luijten, Stef Aerts and Evelien Bosmans
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