Director: Paul Andrew Williams (2010)
Starring: Rachael Blake, Tom Butcher, Jumayn Hunter, Ashley Chin
Like Waiting For Godot crossed with Eden Lake or Funny Games, Paul Andrew Williams' latest movie pits hoodies against suburbanites and thankfully perpetuates the director's spot-on batting average. His London To Brighton was a heartfelt, gripping drama that marked him as talent to watch. The Cottage, whilst annoying critics who felt it beneath his powers, was a superb mean little comedy-horror that (for scare fans at least) outshone his debut and delivered a jolly good backwoods horror to boot. Cherry Tree Lane is neither a heartfelt drama nor a comedy-horror. A sparse, sharp home invasion thriller, Cherry Tree Lane is as tense and thrilling as you could ask for. And not a jot of bullshitty reality rewinding remote controls or killers too smart for their own good.
Christine (Rachael Blake) and Mike (Tom Butcher) are a bickering, slightly annoying married couple found unsuspecting when vengeance-seeking hoodies barge into their home in search of son Sebastian. Sebastian being out at football practice, the yobs make short work of taping the couple up and acting all kinds of antisocial. No digestive biscuit is left unturned as the Kidulthood rejects eat their food, steal their duct tape, trash their rooms and mercilessly critique their DVD collection. It's a fairly thankless pair of roles for Blake and Butcher, who spend literally every scene after the ten minute mark very bound and gagged. Cherry Tree Lane is the Sun/Daily Mail reader's worst nightmare. And not just because it stars black actors and young people. With its feral yobs on a rampage, Cherry Tree Lane depicts a menace most modern; and one that most people can relate to. Who Can Kill A Child? You'll certainly want to after seeing Rian (Hunter) at his worst. True story fact fans: he was in Eden Lake too.
It's not a particularly likeable movie. Like Martyrs and the aforementioned Eden Lake, it's something to be endured rather than enjoyed. It's a hard watch, but one that fascinates as much as it revolts. Mind, it's not for everyone. Despite being better handled than it could've been, a rapey subplot feels like a step too far (so much so that one character comments on it as such) and the climax is both frustrating and a little predictable. The introduction of several other characters also feels a little excessive, although it does amp the action up a notch. But if you've the stomach to handle such things, Cherry Tree Lane is well worth a cheeky little viewing. Although be warned; it's plausible and horrible enough to give you palpatations next time your own doorbell rings.