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Director: Jonas Governs
Cast: Maurice Luijten, Titus De Voogdt, Stef Aerts, Evelien Bosmans, Jan Hammenecker
Artsploitation Films / Region A / Unrated / 2.35:1 widescreen (1080p) / 5.1 Dolby Digital / Dutch, French, and Flemish with English subtitles / 85 minutes
Extras: Deleted scenes / SFX reel / Short film / Music video / Trailers
The horror scene is a very dangerous and beautiful thing. As far back as the silent era, there was something defiantly strange, beautifully macabre about the genre. Over the years, it has evolved and devolved, often serving as the ultimate time capsule of its generation. There's an almost punk rock, 'do whatever the fuck we want' attitude with horror directors. You don't have to be great to win my affections. Just be interesting. Artsploitation Films is the one boutique label right now that truly sets out to turn its viewers on to some of the most unique genre films from all over the world. Ever since they first hit the scene with Gandu (still maybe my favorite Artsploitation release, and a film that still remains terribly underrated), I have been in love with the films they put out, and the absolute care they put into each release. They're still young to the game, but they have already made a huge impact.
Cub, their newest release, a Belgian film from director Jonas Govaerts is an insanely entertaining mixture of werewolf legend, monster movie, '80s slasher and coming of age film. It's a combination you never knew you needed, but believe me when I tell you it all comes together beautifully. Cub aka Welp is the story of Sam, a young boy who is constantly bullied by the members of his Cub Scout troupe. After getting lost in the mountains, the pack leaders tell the story of a werewolf named Kai. Later that night, Sam runs into a child that he believes to be the werewolf. As it turns out, he is the son of a poacher who has the entire place full of traps, leading the campers to have to avoid the traps and do whatever it takes to make it out alive. What follows is a thrilling final act that should definitely please horehounds.
I really have to give it to the actors in this film. Often, especially in indie cinema, child actors can really struggle with their performances. That is not the case here. Everyone here is completely natural, giving each performance real character and absolute charisma. On top of that, Govaerts fills the film with its fair share of cliched genre tropes, but does it in a way that still manages to feel fresh. Each frame is beautifully composed, the effects work is exceptional, and at the end of the day, it's simply a fun film. Plus, it also has a killer ending. Now the one thing I don't want to ever do is oversell a film. Cub is an imperfect film, so don't go in expecting a wall to wall masterpiece. However, it's a thrillingly alive film. It's made by film makers who have nothing but absolute respect for the genre. It's a midnight movie with an art house twist, and it's proof that there is still some life in the 'killer in the woods' sub-genre. I have no reservations recommending this film. It's pretty killer.