DIRECTOR Jonas Govaerts WRITER Jonas Govaerts; Roel Mondelaers STARS Maurice Luijten; Gill Eeckelaert; Titus De Voogdt DVD 3 August
An opening trope of a bloodied young woman pursued through the woods indicates that Cub will bring little new to the table, however the surprise that closes it — she has not reached an expected car-populated road — provides some intrigue that teases throughout. It is unfortunate that Cub is ultimately let down by incomplete narrative.
It is clear from early on that an attempt at layering subplot may derail affairs. The campfire story of the central premise — a scout group heads to the woods supposedly stalked by Kai, a boy that transforms into a werewolf at night — is confused by a short-lived Flemish/French tension, halting the necessary dynamic between central character Sam, a troubled young boy, and his peers, few of whom accept him. The introduction of Kai himself is the stability required yet treads uncertainly, due to a booby-trap thread that muddies, frustratingly adding a character whose motives remain unresolved. For a first-time feature, it is a multi-faceted approach that proves too ambitious.
What is interesting about Cub is its sociological aspect. Sam does not belong to the tribe due to his troubled background; the juxtaposition of this being that he has consciously been placed within a specific social group and clearly remains outside of it. He will never belong, therefore the film’s conclusion, while otherwise clumsy, makes a painful sense from his psychological viewpoint. Young Maurice Luijten brings a convincing disconnection to his character that fits the theory, which, unfortunately, further highlights untapped potential.