Evil Gets Wild! “Cub” review!

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A troop of cub scouts set out on a camping trip in the deep forests near an abandoned bus factory. At the helm are three scout masters overseeing a handful of lively young cub scouts. One of children, Sam, has been through a troubled and violent past and has been labeled the outcast amongst the rest of the troop. Sam encounters a feral young boy, who has been trained by a murderous psychopath whom has made the woods his deadly home. As nobody believes Sam’s run-in with the wild boy whose been stealing around camp, the troop hastily concludes that Sam is lying and stealing, resulting in the trop disliking him even more all the while setting up their fate for something far much worse: a killer camping trip.
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Booby traps. Children vs. Children. Outside nude showering. An ingenious killer. Fun and newfangled horror has made it’s grand return since “The Collector!” Freshman director Jonas Govaerts, with a boat load of crowd funded money, has brought a keen eye to the campy, wooded survival genre with his independent film “Cub” aka “Welp” in the films original French/Flemish language. Going through the motions of setting up character development and moving the characters seamlessly into a ominous situation is what seems to come natural to director Govaerts. Unnaturally, Govaerts doesn’t explore the psychotic background of such an interesting, yet mysterious killer, leaving everything about the antagonist’s intentions to the imagination. This villain, only known as the “psychopathic mentor” on the Artsploitation Films Blu-ray back cover, maintains a dated, yet marathon technique killing spree operation underground in the dark woods, setting up crafty and deadly traps for those who embark on his land. There’s a little tidbit of setup on the killer from an officer explaining to the scout masters that the vacant nearby factory has made some previous employees disgruntled, making the land a cursed hotspot.
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“Cub’s” success mainly stems from it’s actors. Gill Eeckelaert, who has only “Cub” credited under his name, phenomenally creates a superbly feral and masked boy, surviving on the land and in the trees. With a scrawny physique and zero dialogue, Eeckelaert has formed a eerily scary character, more so than the actual menacing mentor. In all honesty, the feral boy should have been the main antagonist pitted against the troop. This character’s counterpart, Sam, played by Maurice Luijten is the epitome of good, yet something is off with the character as told with seldom sharing of the information about his past, his foster parents, his damaged photograph, and the list goes on. While a clear picture of Sam never fully emerges until the finale, the good that bubbles up from his character couldn’t be any more prominent as he’s contrast next to the constant bully shadow of a scout master named Baloo and his mindless troop of followers, looking to be cool in the Baloo’s perverted and unorthodox eyes. With only a handful of ally accompaniments on this trip, those who wish Sam harm outweigh those who want to protect him.
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With the “Lord of the Flies” similar attitude and with more than half your cast under the puberty requirement age, Govaerts ruthlessly places every single person in danger and places every single character on the chopping block. There’s no sugar-coated dancing around the innocent minors, making them actually part of the organic story instead of pussyfooting around them as if they’re made of fragile, non-tempered glass. However, I do feel the opportunity was completely wasted or missed to take out each individual character one-by-one with a signature death scene, but I don’t believe the effect of certain character or characters being dispatched watered down the “oh my god” value.
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The Artsploitation Blu-ray has a beautiful 2.35:1 ratio, widescreen presentation with only very little aliasing detected and the night scenes just as clear as the day scenes. The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix flawlessly contributes to the overall impact of the story, creating a great balance between LFE and HFE, dialogue, soundtrack, and ambient tracks while providing accurate and well-timed English subtitles. The superb giallo-esque score by Steve Moore, who goes under the pseudo name of Gianni Rossi and worked on “Gutterballs”, delivers an intense, on the edge of your seat synth rendition of danger and chase. “Cub” director Jonas Govaerts and his crew earns their merit badges for constructing a bloody and innovative film. Another winning release for Artsploitation Films and another recommendation from this reviewer.

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