• Cub



    Released by: Artsploitation Films
    Released on: August 18th, 2015
    Director: Jonas Govaerts
    Cast: Maurice Luijten, Evelien Bosmans, Jan Hammenecker
    Year: 2014
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    The Movie

    There's been quite a bit of underground buzz surrounding this debut feature from Belgian filmmaker Jonas Govaerts, with Cub receiving early attention, due to its horrific subject matter centering around a group of young scouts on a camping trip.

    The idea of a film combining kids with extreme violence is certainly a touchy subject, but Cub never comes across as truly exploitative, instead relying primarily upon tension and slow burn atmosphere to get its point across, as Govaerts and his co-scriptwriter Roel Mondelaers take their time in setting up location, situation and the elements of danger surrounding the scouts.

    The film focuses its plot around young Sam (Maurice Luijten); an imaginative-but-troubled young boy who takes tales of a woodland werewolf named Kai a little too seriously during his scout trip. Sam is bullied by many of his fellow scouts, and it's only through the understanding of his friend Dries, scout master Kris and camp chef Jasmijn that he muddles through an almost constant series of embarrassments. Soon enough, however, things being to go missing and Sam emerges as the main culprit.

    Kai is indeed real, however, and is quickly discovered by Sam hiding in a remote tree house. An odd kinship begins to form between the two, but it isn't long before the truth behind Kai-who isn't a werewolf, but some sort of feral child-monster-his father/handler and their underground series of connected tunnels comes to light, with very bad results for nearly everyone involved.

    There aren't any real comparisons to be made between Cub and anything else-despite obvious connections to camp slashers, foreign horror and fantasy films-with Govaerts instead taking those nebulous influences and running with it for his own vision. The aforementioned atmosphere is bolstered big time by the exquisite score from Zombi, Lovelock and Miracle main man Steve Moore, who delivers a subtle synth soundtrack which is subtle when it needs to be, and kinetic when the action calls for a more upbeat, John Carpenter groove.

    Some missteps do occur, of course, this being Govaerts' debut effort. There are a number of characters whose plot lines are never satisfactorily summed up, while still others just seem like window dressing, without any discerning personality traits to make them stand out from the pack. If we're supposed to care that these cub scouts are in real danger, then Govaerts should've given us better characters to follow.

    And as for the violence? Well, Cub is grim, but not overtly gory, with more of a focus given on the mental torment and anguish here at hand. Make up and special effects range from some nice practical work to some jarringly distracting CGI, the latter of which could've easily just been abandoned all together in favor of something more old school. Still, Govaerts and Co. clearly set out to do their best here with Cub, and the film does hit more than it misses. Here's hoping that it's all upwards from here for this talented Belgian director.

    Video/Audio/Extras

    Artsploitation Films' Blu-Ray of Cub is presented in AVC encoded 1080p HD, with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The colors and sharpness here is on point, with a color palette which pops, despite all of the dark foliage on display. The aforementioned CGI is particularly easy to spot, however, such as a bad truck explosion and a rather embarrassing death scene involving one pissed off hornet's nest. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is also clear and distinct, with solid, error free English subtitles to the Flemish and French dialogue.

    Extras are nicely arranged with a "Play All" option, starting off with a couple of deleted scenes detailing Sam's home life before embarking on his trip, before delving into a breakdown of how some of the special effects were achieved. There's also (unfortunately) a short film from Govaerts; a stupid effort titled "Of Cats and Women," which is basically ten minutes of a woman torturing a cat to death, in order to get back at a love triangle gone sour. Thankfully, Govaerts' aspirations rose a little higher than this before attempting to shoot Cub. Finally, the original trailer for Cub and a music video shot by Govaerts round things out.

    The Final Word

    Cub is good, moody stuff, although it certainly isn't anything extraordinary when it comes to the media hype machine. Don't go into watching this with any expectations, and you may leave thoroughly satisfied.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!