Wednesday, August 12, 2015

CUB (2014)

CUB (2014) 

Label: Artsploitation Films 

Release Date: August 18th 2015 
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 85 Minutes
Audio: Dutch DTS-HD MA 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Jonas Govaerts
Cast: Maurice Luijten, Titus De Voogdt, Stef Aerts, Evelien Bosmans, Jan Hammenecker

A group of Belgium Boy Scouts heads into the wilderness for a weekend camping excursion, the group are lead by Scout Masters Kris (Titus de Voogdt) and Baloo (Stef Aerts), with the addition of the attractive camp cook Jasmijn (Evelien Bosmans), who take the boys to a campground located not too far from a defunct bus factory. While gathered around the campfire  Kris and Baloo perpetuate the legend of a werewolf boy said to prowl the area, known as Kai, the story particularly strikes a scout named Sam (Maurice Luijten), a troubled adolescent who is the target of bullying from both his peers and scout Master Baloo, who has it out for the young boy whom he finds just plain weird. 

At night Sam encounters a feral boy in the woods, most likely the inspiration for the legend of Kai, and tells the troop about the encounter, after which he is further ridiculed and bullied by the unsympathetic and non believing young boys. I loved the ensemble cast of young actors, and the young men and woman who portray the camp counselors also turn in good performances with Baloo coming off as young and horny, it's Kris who is more mature and offers some genuine compassion for Sam, he's a good guy. 

The setting in the wilderness if fantastic, I found it evocative of my own time in the Scouts as a youth, my own experience even included a troop leader who was a bit a bullying bastard, that type is just drawn to the role I suppose. 

At the start of the film we have peripheral characters like a local law enforcer who rides a moped down the dirt paths, and a pair of bullying brothers who harass the troop, each falling victim to a series of elaborate Rube Goldberg type traps set about the woods, set my a maniac who lives in an underground bunker, who has some ties to the young feral boy. 

The tone is fantastic, its eerie and creepy, it captures some of that youthful magic and dark fantasy of 80s movies, like a twisted version of the Goonies or Stand By Me that has been infused with the vintage slasher tendencies wrapped-up in a good camp tale. It's a sweet throwback enhanced in no small measure by the creepy synth score from composer Steve Moore who seems to be channeling vintage John Carpenter and Goblin throughout. 

The Blu-ray from Artsploitations looks mighty fine with Nicolas Karakatsanis' cinematography coming through with plenty of fine detail and clarity, colors are strong, skin tones look authentic and the colors are vibrant. The Dutch DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround audio mix is potent stuff, offering an immersive and pleasing viewing experience, dialogue, score and discreet effects sound great. Optional English SDH Subtitles are provided. 

Onto the extras we have a selection of deleted scenes, one of which offer a peak into Sam's home life, nothing stunning but here you go just the same. There's also a SFX Reel showing off some of the digital matte painting and lens lens effects used throughout the film. 
My favorite of the extras is the demented short film from Jonas Govaerts 'Of Cats and Woman', a tale of a scorned former lover and the lengths of which she will go to have her revenge, good stuff. There's also a video for Deadsets "One Hour" directed by Jonas Govaerts which is haunting, violent and gorgeous, like the feature itself its quite a watch. Last of the extras are a selection of four trailers for titles available from Artsploitation Films. If you order direct from you will receive a free iron-on Cub merrit badge! 

Special Features: 
- Deleted Scenes (3 Mins) SD
- SFX Reel (3 Mins) HD 
- Short Film 'Of Cats and Women' (Blu-only) (13 Mins) HD 
- Music video (Blu-only) (45 Mins) HD 
- Artsploitation Trailers: Cub(2 Mins) HD, Bloody Knuckles (2 Mins) HD, Der Samura (2 Mins) HD, The Treatment (2 Mins) HD

Cub continues the Artspoitation tradition of dark, strange and wonderful world cinema, movies that have a certain craft to them with an art house aesthetic that I find so damn alluring. Don't be surprised to find several Artsploitation titles on my best of 2015 this year, they're on a roll and this one of my favorites so far. 4/5