Written by: Richard B. Phillips & Megan Griffiths
Starring: Jamie Chung, Matt O’Leary, Beau Bridges
The world has been proven to be dangerous for women in a multitude of ways, as abusers and violent individuals take up any opportunity to use them for profit. The method used in Eden is the most heinous of them all and while the film takes on some seedy subject matter, it manages to tell it in an unrelenting manner. Steering away from the exploitative but still heartbreaking in illuminating a terrifying reality.
While out with friends, Hyun Jae (Jamie Chung) gets captured by a mysterious man and gets transported to be used as part of a sex trafficking operation. While stuck in this horrifying situation, she bides her time in order to find the right opportunity to strike and fight for her freedom.
Hearing stories about young girls being taken into sex trafficking circles float around in the news far too often and Eden tries to display what it looks like to be forced into working in one. Following Hyun Jae, who gets renamed as Eden, shows the dangerous world this entails. These girls are forced to participate in terrifying situations but the most surprising aspect of it all comes from the enterprise nature of the way this specific one operates. It displays the operating structures within it where the girls are kept, disciplined, and regimented like taking daily pregnant tests. Hyun Jae takes the audience through this frightening world where no escape seems plausible.
Certainly dealing with sensitive material, the story of this film may be too much for some to handle because this horrible practice is far too prevalent. Its horrifying nature would make any sane person believe only the most secretive despicable individuals would engage in a service using girls in this manner, but Eden shows how everyday people find pleasure in this. From frat parties to different gatherings, this film seeks to show the reality of the situation and just how disgusting men can be.
Through it all, it presents a strong lead character in Hyun Jae, who must try and survive as she sees the well-guarded nature of this operation. She has to wear a tracking ankle bracelet and gets monitored much like cattle. Hyun Jae becomes the entryway to learning more about the insidious and heinous aspects and she’s there to react to the disturbing revelations made in the film. One of the more stomach-turning ones being her learning from another girl that being nineteen in this operation is too old and if anyone finds out, she may be taken away. A revelation confirming fears of the average age of the girls being trafficked and what the patrons seek. Completely disturbing all around.
Filled with moments of dread, Eden also displays how Hyun Jae can manipulate the men around her to possibly escape. She utilizes the political machinations established within the circle in order to best position herself to break out somehow. With nothing but a wasteland for many miles in each direction, just running away will not cut it, instead, different measures need to be taken, which she utilizes. No matter the operation, there will always be those who crave more power and are willing to act upon it, which Hyun Jae can use to her advantage.
So much credit for the success of this feature must go to director Megan Griffiths, who handles this subject matter with sensitivity and effectiveness. She uses the camera to show the depravity of the situation without falling into the exploitative arena where less capable hands would have wandered into. Yes, it takes the audience with Hyun Jae to some of the “jobs” she must take, but it never goes too far in depicting what she must forcibly do in order to survive. It shows enough to display the dread but not too much to the point of it getting inappropriate. Taking on this subject matter creates quite the tightrope and she takes it on with complete skill and deftness. She gives Jamie Chung good material to work with, as she guides the audience through this hellscape.
The events taking place in Eden certainly have a case for becoming any woman’s worst fear because these operations exist. Completely frightful and incredibly effective in its portrayal, this film takes the audience right into this terrible world to show the dehumanization of women. The way they get treated in this story draws a parallel to livestock on the average farm. Nothing but products that must be controlled and monitored to a disturbing degree. I certainly do not blame anyone unwilling to watch something with this material but the manner in which this film gets captured does justice to the women and does nothing but villainize anyone willing to participate in this system.