Starring Rachael Blake, Tom Butcher, Jumayn Hunter
Directed by Paul Andrew Williams
Distributed by Image Entertainment
Even though the home invasion subgenre went through a recent resurgence throughout the 2000’s with films like The Strangers, Inside, High Tension, Them (a highly overlooked gem from France) and a few remakes to boot (Funny Games, The Last House on the Left or even When A Stranger Calls), it seems like the last few years in horror have been far more about the supernatural threats out there than the real-life ones.
That being said, I was rather interested in Paul Andrew Williams’ Cherry Tree Lane after hearing he was doing his own spin on the familiar genre trope with his latest. Williams is a modest UK filmmaker whose London to Brighton was a film I rather enjoyed; he also penned the truly stellar script for The Children so I was hoping to see something similarly visceral here. Sadly, Williams’ edgy storytelling is nowhere to be found in Cherry Tree Lane, resulting in a film more mundane than shocking with a pair of unlikable protagonists whose ice cold standoffishness sinks any palpable tension Williams manages to build from the very start.
At the start of Cherry Tree Lane, we meet an ordinary middle-class couple named Christine (Blake) and Michael (Butcher), who are just sitting down for a quiet dinner, only to be interrupted by a gang of thugs with a score to settle with their teenage son, Sebastian. When gang leader Rian (Hunter) learns that Sebastian’s not expected home for a while, they decide to make themselves at home (quiet violently as expected) to await his return and settle up; what this ends up meaning for Christine and Michael is a nightmarish ordeal at the hands of their teen assailants and deadly unknown consequences for their only child.
And while all that may sound great in theory, Cherry Tree Lane is honestly a rather average thriller at best; the look and the feel of the flick are great, but unfortunately Williams’ script muddles through several key details (like establishing characters and motives) and never provides a clear-cut motive for the movie’s bad guys, which is a shame since Hunter (who also convincingly played a thug in Attack the Block) and his accomplices are the one engaging element the movie has going for it.
There’s really not much thought-provoking material here either although Williams and his DP Carlos Catalán did create a stunning looking movie, using the house’s bold interiors as a nice visual juxtaposition against the actions going on in the story. Cherry Tree Lane‘s sound design itself is well done, too, with Williams often relying on silence to create tension between his characters and his audience. Unfortunately, though, all that attention to detail ends up being for naught since the dialogue levels throughout the flick are far too low, making it hard to understand some of the actors from time to time.
While Williams does a decent job of creating a sense of tension throughout Cherry Tree Lane‘s rather scant 74-minute runtime, the film flounders under the weight of two underwhelming and prickly protagonists who are as illogical as they are unlikable and a story that’s just not fleshed out enough to make for a compelling end result. We’ve seen better from Williams before, and he has some interesting projects on the horizon so let’s hope Cherry Tree Lane is just a rare misstep for this promising director.
In terms of DVD special features, the home release is as bare bones as the flick- not even a trailer is included.
2 out of 5
0 out of 5
Discuss Cherry Tree Lane in our comments section below!