Prosperous professional couple Mike and Christine are settling in for a standard evening of wine, TV and low-level marital hostility when a ring on their doorbell changes everything. Turns out their son Sebastian is in a little trouble with some local boys, who are quite prepared to camp out and wait for him to get home… The resulting culture-clash chamber drama is raw, revealing and nerve-splittingly tense.
Written & Directed by: Paul Andrew Williams
Starring: Rachael Blake, Tom Butcher, Jumayn Hunter, Ashley Chin, Sonny Muslim
A middle-upper (upper-middle?) class England couple’s usual evening of dinner, wine, light arguing and movie-watching is shot to sh*t when their home is invaded by a trio of hooded menaces that want to beat the living tar out of their son, who just so conveniently happens to not be there. Why? I think the little bugger knows what’s coming for him, since he ratted out one of the gangsta’s cousins and they’re there for revenge. So while they wait, they do the sensible thing and tie up the parents, administer some basic physical and mental torture, and so and so and so forth. So what happens next? Oh, come on…you know me better than that!
Anyone that knows me knows how highly I regard Paul Andrew Williams’ films – THE COTTAGE was one of my favorite movies of 2008 (hell, the first decade, for that matter) so I was really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of his new flick CHERRY TREE LANE. I didn’t even care about reviewing it; I’m just a fan of the dude’s work and wanted it in my collection. So imagine my surprise and geek-fueled happiness when I opened up my latest batch of movies to review, and there it was! Thank you very much, Big Bossman – this totally makes up for the boring-as-all-hell-and-not-so-naked lesbian vampires from last week!!
Before I move on though, if any of you haven’t seen THE COTTAGE, seek it out now. With its comic-caper opening of a kidnapping gone all bungled and wrong from every single way imaginable to its TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE-inspired second half, it hit all the right chords with me and had me laughing till I was crying then simultaneously marveling at all the very cool death scenes. I’ve said all throughout my life and my reviewing career that the Brits know how to perfectly mix blood and laughs – THE COTTAGE (of course), SHAUN OF THE DEAD, DOGHOUSE (awesome flick – watch that one too), SEVERANCE, just to name a few – all as close to perfect as you can get, and all very well worth belonging in your DVD collection.
So when I popped this one in, I was really looking forward to more of the same as I really hadn’t prepped myself as to much of the premise for wanting to be surprised by what I was watching as the story unfolded. Well, surprised I certainly was. As the movie unfolded in front of me, I couldn’t help but to draw comparisons to HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK, FUNNY GAMES, or even THE STRANGERS.
But that’s where the similarities actually ended for me. See, this is not homage to, or remake of, or anything else along those lines, of any of the movies I mentioned above. Similar to them, yes, in some ways – more like in the same ballpark complex, but not on the same field, so to speak. Also, this is not, I repeat, NOT a horror/comedy…at all. This is brutal and bleak, playing more on a commentary between not only social classes, but on the generational gap as well – something I myself have noticed a huge difference in through the years between my generation and the one behind me – and I for one was pleasantly surprised to find that Mr. Williams was choosing to dip out of an entirely different well this time.
I mentioned “brutal” above, but I should also set the record straight on my usage of that term this time. This is no exploitation movie – this is, for the most part, a harkening back to the days of old where the majority of the violence is done off-screen, leaving most things up to your imagination. And if your imagination is anything like mine, you can conjure up some pretty damned brutal images…
If you’re a Williams fan like me, you should most definitely check this one out. If you’re expecting another THE COTTAGE and don’t have an open mind towards a very talented writer/director flexing his creative muscles on something different, or if you don’t want anything to do with the home invasion subgenre of horror, by all means stay away. But I know you guys…you won’t be able to help yourselves, will you? Dark, intelligent, brutal, bleak, and surprisingly open-ended – this is just what I needed on a dark and stormy night!
Cherry Tree Lane (2010)