Midnight Madness Report: Cub
The seed of a full-grown love of horror flicks is usually planted in childhood. Ask anyone at a Midnight Madness screening and they’ll likely be able to explain the one scene or character in minute detail that made a lifesaver out of their nightlight. But as we grow up, a love of horror usually morphs from fear to delight (you can tell by the number of cheers that erupt from the late-night audiences). But we will never, ever be able to forget the kind of fear you have as a kid, when you’re absolutely convinced there is something underneath the bed, or in the closet, or in the case, outside the tent.
Cub is the feature-length film debut of Belgian director Jonas Govaerts (and the first Midnight Madness film ever in Flemmish, fun fact), which tells the story of a Cub Scout group that ventures into the French countryside on a camping trip. But they end up in the wrong part of the woods, and soon a maniac and a feral boy known as “Kai” start picking off the group—and only a troubled Scout named Sam (played by Maurice Luijten) is aware enough to see it.
Govaerts explained in the Q&A that he was inspired by movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween (the latter also seems to have influenced the excellent soundtrack by Steve Moore), that he wasn’t allowed to watch as a kid. Since the movies he imagined ended up being scarier than the films themselves, he doesn’t hold Cub back from going dark. While the first half might have a Goonies vibe, it quickly turns out no one is safe in the forest (not even cute little kids and animals) while Sam’s fight to save his troupe ends up with an unexpected, seemingly bleak, but definitely open-ended twist.
But dark as it is, Govaerts still instills within Cub an element of spectacle. The forest killer’s method of choice is a series of elaborate booby traps that escalate in craziness throughout the movie, and on opening night, a real-life Kai (evil Groot mask and all) wandering the aisles in the dark during the movie.
Because after all, we’re all just big kids, right?