Many boys have often been part of scouts during their youth, but have they ever experienced a camping trip in the woods that involved a mythical werewolf-boy that prowled the forest? We discover what it’s like in the Belgian “Cub” which made its Quebec premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival.
Sam, despite his very young age, is already a social outcast among his scout troop. The other boys constantly make fun of him and one of their scout leaders, in addition to his mutt, despise him. Legend goes that in the woods in which the boys will be camping, there is a boy who has been living there. At night, this boy transforms into a ravenous werewolf with a destructive behavior, known as “Kai”. Everyone believes it is simply folk tale, a story to scare the kids. Sam, however, has reason to think differently from what he is witnessing in the woodland, and now he, as well as the rest of the “Cubs”, are in serious danger.
“Cub” plays out like a Guillermo Del Toro film, with mounting suspense and malevolent threats, looming in the dark. Maurice Luijten, who interprets Sam, allows us to feel very sympathetic towards him, despite seeming like a bright boy. As the movie pans out and the imminent threat, lurking in the woods, begins to attack, the movie does not discriminate age, nor sex, nor animals as targeted victims: anyone is touchable at the hands of murderous violence in “Cub”. Numerous intriguing booby traps are set out in the woods, always connected back to what seems like a power control panel, hidden somewhere. This forces you to keep wondering who is behind this and what is their purpose.
However, there are some downsides to the film. Despite increasing tension and suspense throughout the movie, there lacks a “jump” factor, where you never truly burst out of your seat, which is, I believe, one of the goals that this movie had, in addition to focusing on Sam’s story. Kai’s physical appearance is quite simple: a boy covered in mud with a mask made from the bark of a tree. Nothing really stands out from this film, yet it is not a complete disaster. The ending is up to interpretation, but could seem confusing to some.
A movie worth checking out once, yet if you decide to pass on it, you won’t be missing out on the film of the year. “Cub” results in a 3.5 stars out of 5, in my evaluation.