Sunday, January 27, 2013

DVD Review: CHERRY TREE LANE (2010)

CHERRY TREE LANE  (2010) 

Label: Image Entertainment

Rating: Not Rated
Duration: 77 Minutes
Video: 16:9:Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1

Cast: Rachel Blake , Tom Butcher, Jumayn Hunter
Director: Paul Andrew Williams

Synopsis: A young family is pushed to the very edge of terror and brutality in Paul Andrew Williams' (London to Brighton, The Cottage) horror-thriller, Cherry Tree Lane. Mike, Christine and their son Sebastian have always felt safe in their peaceful suburban neighborhood, but a savage home invasion changes everything, pushing the family into a hellish fight for survival. As their nightmare unfolds, they learn the shocking cruelty that strangers can inflict… and what they'll have to do to save themselves.

Threw this on today, seemed like a good Sunday watch with the wife, a home invasion thriller from the UK from the director of The Cottage, Paul Andrew Williams. Christine (Rachael Blake) and Michael (Tom Butcher) are a quarrelsome couple setting down for dinner, there's some  tension between 'em, some jealousy on the part of Mike for sure, it's pretty typical marital dysfunction. They're awaiting the arrival of their son Sebastian (Tom Kane) when the doorbell rings. Answering the door the couple are brutalized, incapacitated and duct taped by a trio of violent street toughs. It seems they're son has wronged these three in some way severe enough that they feel the need to mead out some form of violent retribution, that's pretty much the gist of the film, there's not much here on paper but Williams does quite a bit with very little, one of the first scenes quite literally informs you this is gonna be a potboiler and sure enough it is. 

I live in an area where home invasions are not uncommon, the wrought iron on the entries provide some comfort but the very notion that it could happen menaces me. One minute your at home sipping pinot noir while eating a bit of dinner and a ring at the door sets the world on it's skull. Beaten down and tied up, your loved ones just out of reach and subjected to a beating, rape or maybe worse. All the while you're powerless to do anything about it, outnumbered and impotent - it's truly the stuff of nightmares.

Williams film is punctuated by some nice lensing, slow camera push-ins and static shots, not at all what I was expecting with a home invasion film, it's surprisingly quiet and peppered with moments of frustration and violence, it's powerful stuff, think Funny Games (2007) by way of Gus Van Sant.  

There's some good atmosphere and tension being built-up throughout, which is great but now for the not so great. While the acting is across the board quite good overall the portrayal of the underclass youths just didn't seem to give me much in the way of the something to grab onto, and our captive couple definitely don't get much in the way of characterization either, what there is doesn't give you much to side with other than this maritally challenged couple are victims, which is unfortunate, but they are never more than unfortunate characters, the situation is awful but we never get a feel for anyone here except for maybe one of the street toughs whom apparently has a heart and prattles on while stoned about the good life and how Chris shouldn't worry so much about what might be happening to his wife in the next room. The most over-the-top performance comes from the lead thug who's just this side of ridiculous but it's not ruinous, just a bit much. Another befuddling element is the inexplicably late arrival of three other guests who do little to service the story. 

The film running just under seventy-eight minutes is a bit short on characterization but I still give Cherry Tree Lane a recommend, it lacks the exploitation elements of say something like House on the Edge of the Park with the sexual violence happening off-screen but it does nicely tap into middle class fears of urban violence, something done considerably better with Eden Lake (2008) but this well-paced thriller though soft on character is plenty full of tense and uneasy moments. 3 Outta 5 

 

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