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New Release Review - CUB (DVD)

A cub scout encounters a legendary monster in a haunted forest.

Review by Emily Craig

Directed by: Jonas Govaerts

Starring: Maurice Luijten, Evelien Bosmans, Titus De Voogdt




"Cub is clearly made by a horror fan, for horror fans, who I think will appreciate the many tropes in the film that are associated with the genre. Unfortunately, the film as a whole just doesn’t seem to fit together."



Cub is described as a Belgian adventure-horror film and is directed by Jonas Govaerts; having only directed short films and TV series, it is the first feature film from the ambitious director.
The film starts as scout leaders Kris (Titus de Voogdt) and Peter (Stef Aerts) hire out a field for themselves and their cub scouts to camp in, but a change of plan occurs when two hooligan teenagers are occupying the same field and refuse to move. They resort to the mysterious woods not far from the field that the locals are more than wary of.
Kris and Peter tell the cubs the tale of “Kai”, a young werewolf boy who lives in the woods – of course they made it up only to make the camping adventure more exciting, but outsider cub Sam (Maurice Luijten) is determined that he can see Kai, much to the dismay of the other cubs.
The first half of the film is extremely well shot and written. The wide shot lens accompanied with the forest scenery make for a marvelous watch. On first glimpse, I thought that Cub was going to be a psychological horror; the film makes you wonder, is Kai real, or is he just a figment of Sam’s imagination? The buildup is really well paced and genuinely spine tingling. Character development in the first half is also praiseworthy, with cruel and unfair scout leader Peter becoming the real antagonist of the film.
The second half of the film switches tone completely; what seemingly was a psychological monster horror turns in to a slasher gore fest. Strange disappearances happen and a particularly disturbing scene involving Peter’s dog occurs. The buildup from the first half is completely trodden on as a new plot hole is opened; we find out there is a mysterious man known as the “Poacher” (Jan Hammenecker) who has an underground lair in the woods. The man has been setting clever traps for those who dare to wander the woods and the child we all thought was Kai, is most likely the Poacher’s son.
This makes the good parts of the film rather pointless. The mystery of Kai is full of suspense and enigma, only to then be ruined by brash gore; which by all means is still shot phenomenally but just doesn’t accompany other parts of the film well. There are lots of elements in the film that are never fully explained to the audience; subtle hints throughout the film about Sam’s troubled past aren't expanded upon and we are never told what the poacher is doing in the woods in the first place.
Cub has some clever nods to classic horror films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and those adapted from Stephen King novels; it is clearly made by a horror fan, for horror fans, who I think will appreciate the many tropes in the film that are associated with the genre. Unfortunately, the film as a whole just doesn’t seem to fit together. There is potential for two very good horror films that have sadly been merged together to create an enjoyable but frustrating watch.



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