Cub follows Sam, a troubled Belgium scout, as he embarks on a camping trip with his troop. Before the adventure kicks off, he is told the story of Kai, a young werewolf that lurks in the woods and kills those that dare to enter. Once the group arrives at their destination, they learn that there may be more to the legend than they initially thought.

Cub is directed by Jonas Govaerts in his feature film directorial debut and co-written by Govaerts and Roel Mondelaers. This marks Mondelaers’ first feature film as well. It’s surprising that this is a debut feature as it has the feel of a much more seasoned effort. Govaerts is clearly comfortable in the director’s chair and his prowess shines through in the finished product. The film has the feel of a retro slasher but it’s much more thought provoking and cerebral than the majority of the output from the heyday of the slasher film. The relationships between the characters are meaningful and everything that Sam does throughout the picture’s brief runtime is significant and paints a picture of what he’s been through in the events leading up to the film.

Cub stars Maurice Luijten, Evelien Bosmans and Titus De Voogdt. Luijten is particularly impressive as Sam. The young actor conveys a thousand words with a single expression. The character has a troubled past (which we don’t hear much about) but Luijten is able to adequately express that his background is full of horrific experiences without ever actually speaking a single word about it. Evelien Bosmans is great as the sole female of the bunch. She puts forth a tomboyish persona and often lends the voice of reason to the group. 

CubGovaerts avoids giving too much backstory on any of the characters and opts instead to allow the viewer to draw his or own conclusions regarding who is good or bad and what makes the characters tick. Even the final scene doesn’t really resolve anything, it leaves the viewer with more questions than answers but that isn’t a criticism. This is the rare example of a slasher film that makes the viewer think and gives them just enough information to formulate an opinion, rather than connecting all the dots for us.

The effects are really on point here. There are some particularly memorable kills scenes (one involving an arrow and a beehive really stands out in my mind) that should put joy in the hearts of gore hounds but there isn’t any senseless or excessive violence. The kills get the point across but do so without being gratuitous or in poor taste.

All in all, Cub is a thought provoking horror film that conjures memories of the slasher pictures of yesteryear while standing firmly on its own two feet. Jonas Govaerts’ love for the genre is apparent but he has managed to put together a picture that is not entirely derivative of that which we’ve seen before. It is a refreshing take on the slasher genre that innovates as much as it pays homage. Cub will see release on DVD and Blu-ray via Artsploitation films August 18th.

WICKED RATING: 7/10

Director(s): Jonas Govaerts
Writer(s): Jonas Govaerts, Roel Mondelaers
Stars: Maurice Luijten, Evelien Bosmans and Titus De Voogd
Release: August 18, 2015
Studio/ Production Co: Artsploitation Films
Language: Flemish, French
Length: 84 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Slasher