CHERRY TREE LANE
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
Paul Andrew Williams
What's it about
Christine and Michael, a relatively normal couple, sit at the table for dinner one night as a group of toughs bust into their home. The ruffians are waiting for the couple's son to show up, since he ran afoul of one of the group. Plenty of tension and unpleasantness ensue.
Is it good movie?
Cherry Tree Lane is the very definition of a movie that can really
unsettle me. I'm just no good with home invasion stuff- it scares me
and always has. I think it's really one of my more deeper seated fears.
Anyway, this one attempts to build tension in unorthodox ways, not
simply by relying on shock value. It's certainly not a pleasant
film, to say the least.
Rather than being a brutal gore-fest, this Cherry Tree plays it smart
and keeps most of its violence off-screen in order to let the viewer
imagine what's truly going on. The fear here comes from the fact that
our antagonists just don't seem to care. They've been totally glazed
over and such acts of violence and even murder just don't mean anything
Much of the film is spent watching them just sit around and wait, while
the family is forced to endure every passing moment. They argue with
girlfriends about TV shows, they invite people over to hang out, they
just don't care. It's not like this one is balls-to-the-wall with
action and violence. In fact, what it doesn't do only adds to the
temperature of a steadily boiling pot. It's hard not to be reminded of
the insane Funny Games, although this one isn't nearly as manic.
Performances are pretty good, with props going out to Ashley Chin as
one of the thugs (one of the only characters who gives some real
explanation as to why he is the way he is), Rachel Blake as Christine
and Jumayn Hunter as our head bad evil thug guy.
Unfortunately though, Cherry Tree Lane doesn't truly feel different
enough to warrant its existence. It seems to be once again trying to
chip home a message about modern society (we're all mindless idiots or
bourgeois fools), but it feels like we've seen this before in some
pretty similar revenge style films. On top of that, there are a lot of
"oh, come on" decisions being made by a few characters that serve to
remind you pretty quickly that you're watching a movie. Most of the
characters tend to be pretty thinly scripted, too- they've got a few
pieces, but far from the whole puzzle. Still though, things are
handled well enough that you'll want to reach through your screen and
throttle these punks.
Things wrap up pretty quickly in this one, as the movie only runs about
70 minutes after the credits have subsided, and takes place almost
entirely in the couple's home. I'll have to admit too that the ending
played it a bit safer than I would have liked (despite a pretty badass
closing shot). The movie starts off with a lit fuse, and winds up sort
of building and building until you get a firework that doesn't exactly
blow your hand off. By no means is it rotten, it just feels a bit
familiar and plays things a bit too safely to be considered great.
Still unsettled me though, and if home invasions are your fear, you
might want to think again before watching this one.
Video / Audio
Video is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and looks
good, though the source material isn't exactly high quality to begin
with. A nice, clean picture for the most part.
Audio comes in Dolby 5.1 and is well balanced and
Not a thing!
It tries to be somewhat challenging or confrontational but doesn't
quite hit the mark, though I was certainly engaged during the film's
brief runtime. If you're looking for some low-budget tension, you could
definitely enjoy this one, though gore fans should look elsewhere. For
my money though, the ending was a bit weak and there were just one too
many cliches in place to really heartily recommend it.