CHERRY TREE LANE
Director Paul Andrew Williams has certainly come a long way since the drawn out London to Brighton and average horror the Cottage. Here he has really matured and created a incredibly tense experience that is not an easy watch. Reviews have already mentioned the obvious Eden Lake comparisons, and that this should in no way be compared to that classic. This, as Hughes said in his review, is more like Them and the Strangers, although this is more real, in your face, uncompromising and chilling. With Them and the Strangers, you have moments where you could escpare the terror as for the majority, the terror was outside. In Cherry Tree Lane, the horrors are well and truly obvious and there is NO escape!
What marks this as a real work of genius is its told in real time, everything happens AS it happens. There’s no cut aways, no chance of a breather or quiet reflection time. You are there for the whole experience and you go through all the suffering the poor husband a wife do. Now, the story. Christine and Mike are married, but it doesn’t seem like a happy marriage. We meet them as they both get ready to sit down for dinner. The conversation is awkward and its clear they don’t love each other the way they used to. All you want to do at this point is be somewhere else, its awkward and you actually feel like your imposing! Mike wants the tv on while they eat, his wife wants to talk, and the conversatin is bordering on an arguement. Something PLEASE save us from this, and it does! A knock at the door, its apparantly a group of their son Sebastians friends from school. They are told he wont be home till 9pm. The conversation then starts up again, and moves onto Sebastians friends. Not long after theres another knock, the husband becomes slightly irritable and turns the tv back on as his wife answers the door. You can just hear scuffling and raised voices over the tv, so does the husband and he turns the tv off, gets up and is greeted by 3 teenage thugs who attack him and beat him unconcious. The 3 thugs are here for Sebastian, and there, my weird friends, is your set up….
We now have to endure an hour of torment, bullying and lawlessness. What Cherry Tree Lane shows is just how detatched from the law young thugs have become, just how much the law means nothing to them and how repsecting your elders has all but vanished. The 3 lads casually wonder round the house, eating food, drinking and looking in every room with a total lack of respect for who’s house it is. The scary thing is, i can imagine this going on. The director also hits on the class differences in a number of ways here, one way which really stood out was as one of the thugs looks through the dvd collection with the intention of watching a film while they wait. The majority are world cinema titles and the guy just throws them on the floor, before its announced he cant read or write. Another time is when the lead thug questions the wife and what her job is, and when she reveals it, he has no idea what she is talking about.
The thugs are all expertly played and the leader is one of the nastiest, ugliest monsters you are likely to see all year. He has no remorse and is totally driven by his thirst for revenge and barks orders at his 2 mates like a vile war leader. His mates often argue with him, but its clear they are terrified of him. One of the other thugs seems to have some compasion, and tries to comfort the husband during a terrible ordeal as his wife is viciously raped in the next room. This scene is expertly done because you don’t see anything, you just hear the odd scream, the odd bang and its never fully amplified so you actually find yourself listening out for something you’d rather not hear. I found it utterly unsettling as the leader comes in to answer his phone during the rape, just wearing his vest and with it “all hanging out” it makes for a uncomfortable scene as its clear how much he really couldn’t give a shit and belives he is above everyone. The poor husband is tied up for the majority of the film, and you can really really feel his pain and helplessness.
Top quality performances from all involved and the chilling real-time direction make Cherry Tree Lane an uncomfortable and unforgetable experience. I shouldn’t go into too much more detail about what happens as the film is very short, and to be honest, not a huge amount happens so telling you anything else would spoil things. Its all about bullying, lack of respect and the need for revenge. Its brutal, uncompromsing and never allows you the chance to get away. It will attack all your nerves and test your emotions to the limit. It will leave a bitter bitter aftertaste and i promise you, at times this is one of the most disturbing movies ever made. Again, not by showing everything, but by allowing you to hear the noises, the chilling screams. The majority of the violence is left up for you to decide what is going on, and that, for me, is far more disturbing than actually seeing the events tkae place. Make no mistake, this WILL stay in your head long after you’ve seen it, and it WILL disturb. Its a breathtaking film, but a brutal one and it should be seen by all lovers of intelligent, real and unforgiving horror.
[pt-filmtitle]Cherry Tree Lane[/pt-filmtitle]