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The True Villain In Eden Lake Isn't Who You Think It Is

"Eden Lake" is one of the most shocking British horror films of all time, thanks to its gratuitous, brutal violence and truly chilling ending. The 2008 film sees Jenny (Kelly Reilly) and her boyfriend Steve (Michael Fassbender) clash with a group of rowdy teenagers in the remote countryside only to soon find themselves fighting for their lives as the gang stalks them through the woods. The film feels so intensely scary because there's nothing supernatural at play, nor are the teens themselves bloodthirsty serial killers like in other horror movies. Instead, they're just inflicting violence on Steve and Jenny because they can.

Featuring an incredibly talented cast, the performances given by Reilly and Fassbender perfectly communicate the sheer terror experienced by their characters in "Eden Lake." Elsewhere, the film's antagonistic teenage gang is led by Brett (Jack O'Connell), a truly unhinged character who forces his friends to hunt and torture Jenny and Steve. One scene in the film even sees Brett's gang torture Steve while he's tied to a rock with barbed wire, and it's a gruesome sight. Things only get worse, however, when Brett starts inflicting his rage on his friends, beating Harry (James Burrows) to death and burning Adam (James Ghandi) alive in a horrifyingly memorable scene.

While it all works as all a parable about the dangers of modern society, the true villain in "Eden Lake" isn't who you likely think it is.

Eden Lake's ending reveals its real villain

After Steve dies, "Eden Lake" follows Jenny as she is left to fend for herself against Brett and his cronies. She kills Cooper (Thomas Turgoose) in what she thinks is self-defense, despite the fact that he's actually trying to help her, and she also runs Paige (Finn Atkins) over with a stolen van before crashing into a garden party taking place in the nearby town. Following her crash, it looks for a minute like Jenny is safe, but that feeling disappears when she realizes that she's in Brett's house and all the adults at the party are the parents of the teenagers who've been tormenting her.

The adults quickly discover what's happened to their children when Brett returns and convinces them all that Jenny is a twisted psychopath who killed all his friends. His father Jon (Shaun Dooley) reacts by screaming at him and slaps him before sending the teen to his room. As a result, it becomes immediately clear that Brett has been raised in a violent, abusive house, and that his home life is the reason he's become such a twisted individual. It's a twist that forces viewers to wonder what Brett may have had to endure growing up in order to be so comfortable with such extreme torture and murder.

In other words, while Brett's a disturbing villain, it's even scarier to think that his dad is worse than him. At least, that's the implication, as the film ends with Jon and some other men taking Jenny into the bathroom, presumably to kill her in revenge for hurting their children. Her haunting final screams manage to stick with you long after the film's credits have rolled, and ensure that "Eden Lake" ends on a fittingly bleak note.