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CHERRY TREE LANE
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Paul Andrew Williams

Starring:
Rachel Blake
Tom Butcher
Jumayn Hunter

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
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 to them.

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 mixed.
The Extras
Not a thing!
Last Call
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.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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