Evoking the rural shade of modern American cinema, Cub is Jonas Govaert’s debut ferocious slasher horror with nods to everything from Cabin in the Woods to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Cub tells the story of Antwerp Scout Group takes a trip into a secluded forest area supposedly haunted by a werewolf killer named Kai, only to discover the rumours aren’t rumours after all.
Though ostensibly not about werewolf but in fact a feral child who’s murderous rampage is led by a lunk-headed killer for seemingly no purpose, Cub has as many cracks in its storyline as the forest does trees, but that doesn’t stop Cub being an adrenaline filled 84 minutes that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole way through. The character design of Kai and the vicious noises he makes were haunting and perfectly crafted thanks to the help of Nicolas Karakatsanis and made up for a great many plot holes and Gill Eeckelaert does a great job through a very physical performance as Kai. I cared not for how Kai’s elaborate forest traps were built, impractical as they were, simply because they were so beautiful and the obvious scout inspiration foretelling Kai’s unspoken origins were subtly beautiful and had me sold.
Where Cub falls down is certainly the story. Despite a significant 50+ minutes of build up before the action filled conclusion the backstory is poor and the motivation for the film’s protagonists is somewhat…unbelievable. Sam’s actions (Maurice Luiten) near the film conclusion just don’t fit with his earlier actions, despite the violent past they’ve eluded to. The physical similarities between Kai and Sam throughout the film and a suspicious photograph throw some suggestion as to why this might be the case, but it’s not well-explained and is left largely unanswered. Somehow though it still managed to keep my attention and for those looking for a good action thriller with
little to think about Cub is a revelation.
There were no stand-out performances in this film, though good performances by Maurice Luiten and Gill Eeckelaert has certainly convinced me I’ll see them again, though I’m not sure if they’ll move beyond Flemish cinema. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and will undoubtedly be watching it again!
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