A real gem of a film

by Nav Qateel

When a group of cub scouts head out to the wilderness for a camping adventure, they find themselves slap-bang in the middle of the killing ground of a very large and murderous psychopath. As if that’s not enough, there’s also a young, mask-wearing, murderous psychopath running around the woods, too.

Sam (Maurice Luijten) is a troubled boy who’s treated differently by the others from the outset. He’s picked on by some of the scouts and even by the scout leaders, with Baloo (Sef Aerts) being particularly cruel to Sam. At one point Baloo even sets his dog on the boy. As is the norm with camping trips, the adults tell spooky stories to frighten the kids, telling them a story about a werewolf boy named Kai, who comes out at night to feast on his victims. Sam is already convinced he saw Kai earlier that day but was ridiculed when he tried to warn the others. The following morning, they discover items have gone missing, like flashlights, dogfood and Sam’s knife. Soon things take a more sinister turn, and the blood begins to flow.

Directed by
Jonas Govaerts
Maurice Luijten, Stef Aerts, Evelien Bosmans, Titus De Voogdt
DVD Release Date
18 August 2015
Nav’s Grade: A-

Cub is one of those rare, clever horrors that’s head and shoulders above the usual exploitation flicks that are currently flooding the market. Where those over-abundant films have a tendency to look for the quick and easy pay-off, Cub relies on great writing and a multi-dimensional central character with whom we can empathize with while we examine and question his motives in detail.

Maurice Luijten’s character Sam, eventually finds himself in a tenuous friendship with the masked feral boy he dubs “Kai.” Because Sam shows Kai kindness by giving him dogfood to eat, Kai returns the kindness in a rather unexpected and horrific way. And it’s this strange bond the boys develop that has the biggest impact on the viewer. Whenever the ever-watchful Kai sees Sam being treated badly — which is an often occurrence — the wild boy takes it upon himself to severely punish the wrongdoer, starting with Baloo’s dog. After Kai captures the dog, shoves it in a bag then hangs it from a tree, he invites Sam to beat the dog to death with a large stick. Will this release 12-year-old Sam’s barely-hidden dark side?

While Cub is occasionally far-fetched, like the killer’s lair having a fairly advanced warning system that covers multiple points within the woods, or the crazy death traps that have balls rolling down runways like the Mattel game Mouse Trap from the 70’s, I found it to be a refreshing change and something rarely seen in anything produced in Hollywood.

The film is very well shot by cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis (The Loft), with a striking 80’s electronic score by Steve Moore (The Guest). Cub is an impressive debut by Jonas Govaerts, a director who appears to have a bright future ahead of him.

If you’re looking for a horror with real meat to it, then look no further than this little gem.

Coming on Blu-ray and DVD on August 18, 2015 from Artsploitation Films