The plot of Jonas Govaerts’ movie centres on a group of Boy Scouts who go out into the wild for a camping trip, only they end up with more than they bargained for. We find ourselves drawn to Sam (Maurice Luitjen), a young boy with a mysterious and troubled past who is maybe a little bit of a square peg in the round hole that is the group. As Akela (Titus De Voogdt) and Baloo (Stef Aerts), along with cook Jasmijn (Evelien Bosmans), do their best to keep the kids entertained and in line, it soon becomes apparent that one of the urban legends that’s being spouted to the boys may not be quite as fictional as once believed. For you see, out there, lurking in the woods, is an apparent savage and feral child dubbed Kai, who has his sights on slicing and dicing his way through the group.
Cub in and of itself is a good idea, striving to steer clear of some of the more familiar tropes of similar such films. The score is atmospheric, almost Carpenter-esque at times, and the tension surrounding the mystery of the unknown is admirable and often well crafted. Unfortunately though, what lets Cub down in part is some of its actual reveals. By this, we mean that the build-up and tease of the ‘monster in the woods’ is far more impressive than what we get when we actually see the supposed creature that’s tormenting our campers, particularly hindered by the faux animalistic noises let out at certain times.
It’s a shame that Cub ultimately ends up dropping the ball as it comes to a conclusion. There’s some nice establishing tricks used throughout the early part of the film, and there are even some genuinely dark and eerie moments, not to mention decent gore when it comes, dotted in amongst the 84-minute running time here, but the end result just feels a little lacking.
There’s no doubting that Govaerts has some talent, with some clever and delicate storytelling at the core of Cub, all helped by some strong performances from the principal cast (itself particularly impressive given the young age of the majority of them), but this just feels like a movie where the a few missteps were made as a slightly obvious twist unravels to the surprise of likely nobody. Still, whilst many will see where Cub is going, it’s a relatively enjoyable film nonetheless.
CUB / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: JONAS GOVAERTS / SCREENPLAY: JONAS GOVAERTS, ROEL MONDELAERS / STARRING: MAURICE LUITJEN, EVELIEN BOSMANS, TITUS DE VOOGDT, STEF AERTS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW