One of the greatest and saddest problems in the world is that of forced prostitution. My gut reaction to this crime against humanity is that it should be considered at least as great a concern by democratic governments as terrorism. In some countries in the Third World, it can be a complex issue, bound up with cultural and religious practices that it might not always be ethically defensible for Western governments to interfere with directly (though I still think we should, in some way), but the problem exists in a starker form in Western countries also. At any given time in any Western country there are at least hundreds, most often thousands, of women who are effectively sex slaves, usually having also been turned into drug addicts by ruthless pimps and their henchmen, most of whom comes from eastern Europe, as do most of the victims. Most, but not all. Some forced prostitution rings specifically offer their clientel a selection of ethnicities, such as the one portrayed in Eden.
Eden chronicles the two-year ordeal of a 17-year-old Korean-American girl from New Mexico who is abducted during a night on the town, and brought to a warehouse in the Nevada desert, where a large handful of girls, some as young as 13 or 14, are bunked up and nightly transported out to local clients.
Eden is the name given to this girl, who starts out being rebellious, but soon learns to fall into line. The leader of the warehouse is a corrupt police officer who is said to be reporting to some higher-up guy in a bigger but unseen organisation.
After a year of being forced to “turn tricks”, Eden becomes desperate enough to ask her handler, the young second-in-command called Vaughan, to either kill her or promote her to an assisting position inside the organisation, and he opts for the latter. Gaining an increasingly trusted position with Vaughan, Eden is eventually, another year later, in a position to escape.
This account is based on the true story of such a victim, and every effort is made to make it highly realistic, making the movie almost a docu-drama. That is to say, realistic except for not being overtly explicit in the sexual abuse. The movie tastefully circumvents most such territory, and the viewer is grateful for it – it may reduce some of the movie’s tension, but it also makes it more watchable, ensuring that the constant knot in your stomach doesn’t grow unbearable. For harsher fare about the same subject, see the rather more intense Lilya 4-ever (2002).
As it is, however, Eden is a good movie which rings true and serves the function of highlighting a particularly nasty type of crime, and educating the audience about it.
The movie was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on September 9.
Director: Megan Griffiths
Cast: Jamie Chung, Beau Bridges, Matt O’Leary, Eddie Martinez, Tantoo Cardinal, Jeanine Monterroza and others.
Runtime: 98 min.