The mini premise I read about ‘Cub’ was as follows – “Over-imaginative 12 year-old Sam heads off to the woods to summer scout camp with his pack convinced he will encounter a monster…and he does.”. Now, I don’t know about you, but that sentence right there, made me immediately want to watch this film, no other information required, I was instantly hooked.
That plot outline however, is not the whole story which is disappointing from my point of view, but not as disappointing as it would have been if the film were bad, which it is not. ‘Cub’ centres on a scout troop and their 3 20-something leaders who go into the woods on a camping trip, but of course, because this is a horror film, shit goes bad.
The first half of this film is filled with beautiful shots, panning environment shots and the colour saturation is outstanding, however, a little before the halfway mark, which coincidentally is when the film starts to become a horror film, the beautiful shots disappear, the saturation is drained and it starts to look like the standard horror formula film and in my mind, was the start of not only the decline in quality of the picture but also of the film as a whole.
When this film was doing its own unique story with interesting characters and plots developing, as soon as the horror really gets going, all those interesting characters and plots are seemingly forgotten which is always a difference, for me, between a very good horror film and a great horror film.
I would also like to add that revealing the “monster” at the beginning of the film, very clearly was a huge mistake and definitely took away some of the shock that should be there when the monster is finally introduced to the protagonists. It doesn’t help that the “monster” is very bland with nothing unique or interesting that hasn’t been done before.
In fact I think that is ‘Cub’s biggest problem, everything in the film that should be a twist has been done before and unfortunately it has been done better. While that doesn’t make ‘Cub’ a bad film, it is just not an original film by any stretch of the imagination.
The film is filled with fantastic performances, especially impressive considering most of the performances in the film are by young children. Not once did I not believe any of the kids acting and it certainly helped draw me into the film. The script was well written, if contrite and the dialogue served its purpose well enough. However there was 2 distinct points where I thought to myself, this is the perfect place to end it, but it didn’t and 5 minutes later again, I thought, perfect place to end it, nope! The film carried on for another 10-15 minutes, don’t get me wrong, those 10-15 weren’t bad it just wasn’t needed for me, I got what I needed out of that film so anything extra was fine but kind of took away what could have been a poignant ending for a rather bullshit ending.
My biggest issue with the film however is that it just felt like such wasted potential, they had almost everything down, the first half of the film was shot fantastically, the performances were strong, the little plot tease was amazing and the effects were brilliant. The film suffered most not only when it decided to become a full-on horror film but also trying to pull of various plot twists that were mostly predictable or that I simply didn’t care about because the writers had abandoned trying to get you to care about the characters at the mid-way point.
Overall, I would say that it is definitely worth a watch, but try not to go into the film expecting something as brilliant as the plot tease promised.