TIFF 2014: Cub
Jonas Govaerts’ Cub feels all too familiar, a significant problem given its promising concept and imagery. On a Cub Scout trip to the woods, young scout Sam (Maurice Luijten) sees a feral child with a bizarre mask running around in the forest. He repeatedly warns his fellow campers, only to get made fun of. The counselors, vaguely alluding that Sam has some sort of dark past, don’t believe him until it’s too late. The feral child, along with his hulking father figure, live in a secret lair in the woods, setting up booby traps all around to kill unsuspecting people wandering into their territory.
There isn’t much to say about Cub because it really doesn’t do much to make its slasher in the woods premise refreshing in any way. The usual elements are all here, as if Govaerts goes down a checklist: abandoned vehicles strewn about, scenes that end with a cut to the villain discreetly hiding nearby, late realizations by supporting characters of the severity of their situation, someone stumbling upon the killer’s secret, elaborate lair, just to name a few. It also suffers from an incredibly abrupt ending, one that gives Sam a completely unbelievable arc and bafflingly leaves the fates of several characters open for no reason. The poor writing and characterization ruin everything, leaving Cub as nothing more than a middling genre effort.