Watching foreign horror movies is always a treat. The quality of the films may not match those of the more mainstream American movies at times, but more often than not non-American horror take risks that Hollywood execs tend to shy away from.
Welp (known as Cub in English speaking countries) is fun and fast paced slasher-in-the-woods from Belgium and the directorial debut of Jonas Govaerts. The story follows Sam, a twelve year old who joins his cub scout group for a camping trip into the woods. Little do they know the location chosen for their adventure is a hunting ground. A hunting ground for what you ask? To tell would ruin the surprise.
The movie is tightly written and well filmed. The setting is genuinely gorgeous and used wisely through the story. Welp is a slasher film but has very heavy elements of survival horror similar to those in Wrong Turn, Eden Lake, and The Hills Have Eyes.
What I give the movie a lot of credit for is not shying away from dealing with some significantly sensitive violence but managing to do so without going over the top. Govaerts handles two specific scenes (one involving a dog, the other a number of kids and pick-up truck) very well and although there may be some aversion from certain audiences to appreciating the content, it works without being gross-out or shock-and-awe.
The last item of praise I have for this film is the soundtrack. Written by Steven Moore, the sounds and background score are excellent. Without knowing his exact influences I’ll just say that I heard John Carpenter through the entire movie. Strong, direct synthesizers with deep beats, stripped down to the bone. Nothing flashy. Just tonally perfect music for a horror film of this kind.
My primary criticism of the film is the third act. The reveal works and Govaerts does a nice job of bringing the film full circle, yet it felt there was something missing in the set-up. Paying close attention will give you enough info to buy off on the finale but just barely. Moreover, the final battle (of sorts) is a bit longer than necessary and the audience must accept a few standard horror tropes just because.
Overall Welp is a strong addition to the horror family. Well paced, well acted and bloody enough the slake the thirst of most horror fans. Jonas Govaerts has done a fine job on his first outing and it will be interesting to see what he comes out with next.