Out today on DVD is Cherry Tree Lane, a home invasion thriller written and directed by Paul Andrew Williams (The Cottage) that follows a seemingly ordinary couple through one terrifying night after they’re taken hostage by a gang who has a beef to settle with their teenage son.
Dread Central had the chance to jump on the phone with Williams earlier today to talk about Cherry Tree Lane and what inspired his take on the modern home invasion subgenre. Williams also discussed his experiences working with his cast while filming the indie project over two weeks and why it’s the violence you don’t see that he finds far more terrifying than obvious gore shots a lot of horror movies rely on these days.
Check out the highlights from our exclusive chat with Williams below, and look for Cherry Tree Lane out on DVD now courtesy of Image Entertainment.
Dread Central: Can you talk about what inspired you to write a home invasion story?
Paul Andrew Williams: Well, I made the movie about four years ago now, and the one thing I’ve always tried to do is not follow all the trends out there; I know a lot of people have called our movie “hoodie horror,” which is in reference to a lot of those movies about violent youth here, but that wasn’t something I was aware of really. So I never really tried to think of Cherry Tree Lane as a horror movie- I knew it had horrific elements, but my focus was more on the story more so than getting it to fit inside a label.
Dread Central: What inspired you to do a movie that takes place sort of in ‘real time’? Did that present any difficulties in regards to your own style of storytelling?
Paul Andrew Williams: Not really; I really thought the idea of presenting this story in real time gave the film a very realistic feel because you’re just following these people over the course of an hour or so. In that kind of time people don’t change, and they certainly don’t grow as people, which is something you often see in these kinds of projects. That’s not what I wanted to do; in reality when there are these kind of situations (home invasions), those stories aren’t like the typical Hollywood story that unfolds with some great heroic moments- they’re just awful moments that could also be considered somewhat ‘mundane’ in comparison.
I also wanted the audience to feel like they were trapped there with Rachael [Blake] and Tom’s [Butcher] characters, wondering just what it was these kids ultimately wanted, all while letting that uncomfortableness of their presence settle in throughout that hour. Strangers watching your TV or mulling through your belongings? Not scary. Strangers watching your TV and looking at your stuff while you’re bound and gagged on the floor? Now that’s terrifying.
Dread Central: You chose to have a lot of the violence in Cherry Tree Hill take place off-camera; was that a budgetary consideration or was it more of a stylistic choice for you?
Paul Andrew Williams: Maybe a bit of both, but it was more about just telling the story and not relying on violence to do that. And for me, I just really don’t get much enjoyment out of watching people being brutalized in film either so I didn’t want to really do that in here. It just didn’t fit the approach we were going for.
When you look at a movie like John Carpenter’s The Thing and how gory and gross it is (which is great), that kind of gore serves that story. It makes sense and it had purpose. That kind of gore didn’t make sense for me and it didn’t really serve any purpose either. The reactions in this movie are what really sells that story- seeing someone else’s pain when someone they love is taken away and raped and there’s nothing they can do to stop it, that’s just horrific to me.
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