Here's my process for making predictions about a horror film. First, I'm made aware the title is Cub. Maybe the movie is about a bear. A bear cub is taken and mommy unleashes her hellish fury (Nope). Then I see the trailer. Okay so I was mad wrong- this is about cub scouts. That could have helped. There are many children in a Cub Scout troop, one of which is bullied and ridiculed constantly. They venture out with their scout leaders for a camping trip. Maybe it'll be like Children of the Corn and the kids will go freak-cult nuts (nope). They're told there is a boy named Kai who transforms into a werewolf at night haunting the woods. Maybe it's true and their ignorance feeds our satisfaction when they find out. Maybe our leading, bullied boy Sam (Maurice Luijten) turns out to be this "Kai" and we're in for a potentially predictable plot twist. These were my predictions before viewing this film. Additionally, here were my "who dies" general (and usually accurate) predictions: There is an asshole male troop leader, a kind male troop leader, and a nice but semi-slutty female troop leader. Nice one will live, asshole will die and the chick is up for grabs. There is a camp full of young kids. Since this is a Belgian film, and Europe is enviously more daring, I'll assume there's a few jerks in the mix of children and they die. Though my never-ending urge to see something different and original prayed I was wrong. And more so watching a foreign film did I hope I'd see more of the unexpected. Is it wrong I wanted more kids to die? You just don't see it as much in horrors. Even if the result is not preferable, I enjoy when the outcome is completely different than what you had predicted.
Cub, directed by Jonas Govaerts, was cinematically shot very well. Film quality, angles, timing- all worked visually. There's definitely a difference working in the storyline's favor when the filming is done well, and it was needed. Plot holes and other elements did not register as easily as it should (at least, not to this horror-loving critic). For instance, we learn pretty quickly that whomever we're to discover is in the woods has set up numerous triggered contraptions via their forest surroundings, electricity, an advance pulley system, and where did they get those bowling balls? I see the parallel to using nature for survival, like you would in scouts, but it certainly doesn't explain the electricity that happens to help operate some of it. This is a writing flaw, but if you can accept there may be some crazy underground power source then you can move on. When it comes to our cast, Govaerts successfully makes having any regard for a character completely pointless in this film. For your own sanity, while watching this, pay no attention to the characteristics of anyone. If someone is nice, don't give a shit. If they're a dick, doesn't matter. Don't root for anyone.
Our main character Sam is given a vague backstory as an orphaned boy with a troubled past. He carries around a photo of (assuming) his mother, himself, and there's another boy in the back with the face scratched out. That's not elaborated on at ALL, but a few possibilities form. He does discover a boy, though no werewolf, living in the woods. He seems to almost befriend him, maybe even relate to him (???). There's a companionship made known. Especially when another pointless scene occurs involving a dog (c'mon- was that necessary?). It sets up for an interesting, though confusing twist towards the end.
*Spoilers* Most of my predictions were fairly accurate, and yet some things delightfully surprised me. There were two obligatory characters added, seen riding a buggy in what was supposed to be the original camp site. This forced our characters to find another locale, deeper in the woods. Unnecessary, but it worked. They're essentially filler characters to make the story flow and to give us victims we care little about. It's easy to watch them die. When their buggy runs out of gas, one travels to the camp site to get some. Of course, now alone in the woods, we see him die (rather creatively). So.. What happened to the other guy? We literally never see him again. Okay, sure- moving on. We have a rather heavyset officer riding a tiny dirt bike or moped, which I hope was just to add comedy, because that's all it really did. On his ride back from visiting the campers, his original path is blocked off by about 8 small tree limbs (thanks to a triggered pulley contraption), forcing him to travel a different route. Now- these tree limbs don't even block the whole road. It's a matter of lifting his 80lb bike over a few small tree limbs to put himself back on track. Resources, filmmakers. Resources. But of course he doesn't even try to walk the 6 steps over them and travels ultimately to his predicted demise. I made one more educated guess based on the clues I was given by the end of the film, involving Kai and Sam. I'll only say that it could make for a great cliffhanger. Make your own predictions. They don't tell you. The bastards don't even give a hint.
I won't toss anymore death spoilers in there either, suffice it to say that I was thoroughly delighted not all my predictions were correct. However, there were a few (and I'll vaguely describe them)- parts that had me going "Wait...how?.. You can't.. That's.." For example, someone drops from about 40 feet and still is capable of running. I assumed that was a death, but no. Someone gets torched in a car that explodes but is walking around covered in scarred flesh like they just burned their thumb on a hot stove. I thought that was a death, but no. There are a few characters we can only assume survived considering we just never see them again, so... Okay. And that of course begs the question "Where'd they go?" I don't know. I guess for most viewers, at the end of the film you can more easily than I say "Whatever.. Who cares.."
If you've seen your fair share of people dying in the woods films, this one might not excite you. I'll tell you now that the level of gore is mediocre at best. For you gents, I'm not sure if I saw nipple, but we definitely got a decent ass shot and some side boob. But all in all, if you want to see something moderately different, mildly engaging and don't mind reading the subtitles (did I mention it's in Flemish?), then enjoy the 80 minute film and see how you feel about it. It's an easy watch.
reviewed by Corinne