Cub follows a band of scouts that takes a trip into the woods only to discover that a feral adolescent and his crazed but crafty father are looking to turn them into their prey. One outcast of the group has to decide whether to help his fellow troops survive, or perhaps join the demented family in their violent pursuits.
Cub is a foreign film that uses a common vehicle (scouts) to connect to pretty much every modern culture that has a similar concept in their respective society. I was surprised to see the similarities and differences in the scout troop portrayed in this film. Perhaps some or all of it was for cinema's sake, but it was a curious experience to witness.
The commonality allows the viewer to proceed without any concern for understanding and delve into the characters and plot. For the most part, we are getting a heavy dose of homage to slasher films of old, which is clearly deliberate. It teeters on the line between satire and honor frequently enough that it's hard to tell, but the film's balance in humor and horror works in its favor to drive the story along at a reasonable pace.
The boys do an excellent job of delivering their roles, especially the two leads. The conflicted scout and the feral boy spend their screentime interacting without words and it works better than some films with hefty dialogue. It's an impressive feat to have this escalation of character from the protagonist as he engages with this "monster" of the woods in silence, using only gestures and actions to communicate motive and emotion. It's effective and never confusing.
The horror itself is decent. The creativity of the concept isn't quite used enough through the first three-quarters of the film. We have mostly ominous behavior and a slow build-up to the finale. There is enough happening throughout the film and in the climax to compensate for the lack of horror in between, but there will be lulls that someone who is susceptible to agitation with subtitles will reach a breaking point.
I was sold on this movie because of its progression and subtle ode to slashers. It paves its own way without being overly cliche or subservient to the tropes. It feels different than any film I have seen. And while sometimes I use that as a silver lining excuse for a terrible movie, in this case it was a very good thing.
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 5/10
Film Quality: 7/10