Here's the second half of my chat with Eden Lake writer-director James Watkins in which we discuss the film's ending so for all of those who have yet to see the film, please stop reading right now, go and see it, and then come back and read the rest.
Let’s talk about the ending which made me more angry than any film has in quite some time.
With me or the film?
Both, I think.
Is that a good or a bad thing?
Well, it’s not that I didn’t like it, because I did, otherwise I wouldn’t be here talking to you…
It’s really interesting. Brett’s reaction, how much is it him getting away with it? How much is that look at the end bravado? I don’t want to impose a viewpoint on the ending but I think it’s very true, you’ve gone through that journey with Kelly…
Were there many discussions about the ending?
Yeah, lots of discussions. I didn’t want to have an ending… she’s a school teacher, she’s been through this horrible journey, she’s reached almost this point… you know when she gets the knife and it’s kind of almost pathetic when she hits the dad with the knife and she’s almost at the end of the road I think. I didn’t want her to turn into this take charge Ripley, Sarah Connor, pull a grenade out of her dress and kill everybody Death Wish.
But it wasn’t Kelly Reilly's character getting it that bothered me.
It was Brett upstairs?
Interesting. I guess it depends on whether you think he gets away with it or not. I remember Anthony Minghella talking about the ending of Ripley and Ripley’s just killed his boyfriend and gets away with it, and he was talking about does anybody ever get way with it in their soul, and I guess that how I feel about it with Brett, does he ever get away with it, is he really a winner here, I don’t know. It was the ending that I had and the ending that felt right and I didn’t have another ending. I wasn’t trying to spit in your face, that was never my intent. I don’t have those snickering frat boy sensibilities. I don’t get off on that particularly. [Writing it] I probably thought that’s arresting. That’s an interesting place to end, tragic and traumatic… I’ll tell you what it is, I always had that image of Brett in my head from the beginning of the film. It came from that image, I was drawn to that image of Brett and the glasses and the mirror and never shook that image off. Sometimes you really think through things on a logical, manipulative level, and some things are more intuitive, I suppose, and that was a more intuitive ending and it just felt right. Or wrong.
My Little Eye, Gone, Eden Lake — clearly you’re drawn to dark subjects…
I’ve written other stuff I have to say, that’s just what’s got made.
Does that horror pigeonhole bother you?
Nobody likes being pigeonholed. I don’t see myself as the gore guy pr anything like that. Having said that, I am definitely more drawn to thriller territory, suspense thriller, psychological thriller, horror thriller, any of those things and that’s probably what I’ll try and do next, probably do something more psychological, less survivalist and maybe with a touch more redemption at the end.
And that would be for you to direct?
I hope so, I guess if people will still want to give me money but yeah, having had a taste for it, I’ve got a taste for it. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, write my way into directing so hopefully I’ll be able to continue.
You've written The Descent 2. How does it pick up from the original?
We always talked about Halloween and Halloween 2, almost a real time thing, so you’ve got a bunch of girls, they’ve gone down a cave, they’ve gone missing, they don’t check in, and so you have the rescue team. Again you’ve got a group dynamic and for those people who have seen the first film you’re ahead of the game, those that haven’t it plays both ways. It was so tricky, you play both ways there, and then you’ve got, What about the Americans?
So what did you do about the "happy" US ending?
We had lots and lots of discussions. I’m not trying to hold out on you here I just honestly can’t remember, it go so complicated, we had different things that we tried. We definitely tried to address it and then we reached a point where we wrote a point where it has to address that… but my focus and energies were trying to address the English version, really, and then think fuck it’s got to work for the Americans.
So is Shauna’s character alive?
Yes, she is alive.