Cherry Tree Lane – a seriously wrong turn
This maddening mess sees three violent and disturbed teenagers break into the home of an unhappily married and extraordinarily unlikeable couple. The pair are beaten and tied up within seconds, and the assailants then proceed to sit on the couch waiting for the couple’s son to come home so they can kill him for being a grass.
This lasts for almost 80 minutes, and it is excruciating; a mind-bendingly dull and lazy waste of time; time that could be spent doing something infinitely better, such as attempting to clean your teeth with a pneumatic drill whilst swallowing a rusty cheese-grater.
The painfully clichéd unhappy couple argue over dinner in a monotonous and badly scripted fashion about an affair that she may have had a while ago (it’s hard to keep track of the conversation due to its poor delivery). They answer the door and are attacked. They are subjected to occasional abuse of a severe nature, whilst the clock ticks down (somewhat erratically) to their son’s arrival, which is due to be met with a fatal response. That is literally it.
Some of the events in Cherry Tree Lane should be harrowing, but the final product is so astoundingly lacklustre in every single way that the film just collapses into a heap of tiring and badly executed sequences that only serve to waste the time of the viewer.
There are so many problems; a plethora of inconsistencies that drag the film further into a pit of rancid pointlessness. The attackers complain that is there is no booze in the room, until they spot the obvious bottle of wine that the couple were having with their dinner. They turn this down and choose to go without alcohol instead. Confusingly, some other characters appear later on and decide to raid all the other drinks on display in the very same room, such as the rather blatant bottle of champagne that has appeared from nowhere on a different table that has also appeared from nowhere.
The couple’s son has apparently been a vital figure in the conviction of a local gang leader, yet they knew nothing of his involvement on any level. Would he not have given some kind of evidence? Would the dangers of providing information not have been highlighted to the minor and his parents? Why is there no hint of protection in place?
A recent review claimed that the use of ‘street language’ (perhaps they meant slang?) helped give the film authenticity. Simply having a few kids from London say ‘innit’ a few times DOES NOT give a film authenticity.
Some have suggested that Cherry Tree Lane is gritty and intense; one can only assume that the definitions of both have changed dramatically. Cherry Tree Lane is devoid of tension, and the only moment that raises the pulse is the clear sign that the film has ended (thank you credits, we are indebted to you).
If the film is trying to show that some youngsters in London can be a bit hectic, then thanks for the heads-up on that one, some of us were still undecided. If it is trying to demonstrate that there is a compassionate side hidden away in some misguided youths, then it has certainly failed miserably. If it is trying to build towards a crazed, rousing and ultimately satisfying fightback for audience gratification (a la Last House on the Left), then this has fallen very flat, as the film’s crescendo (loose term) is no more rewarding than a brutal kick to the nether-regions delivered by an impossibly strong, steroid-pumped horse-beast from the tenth level of hell.
The only message that this film sends out is one that insists lower and middle class people can never and should never mix; this forms part of a vile ideology that should stay hidden away in the hideous pages of the Daily Mail. Similarly, Eden Lake was utter tripe, suggesting that currently the most horrific demons that can be dreamt up by filmmakers are in fact young people in hoodies. People of a variety of different ages are capable of terrible things, in case that had escaped the attention of this batch of filmmakers that think using teenagers to drive a wedge between classes is a great basis for a scary film. We want to watch a horror movie, not get subjected to a one-sided and fragmented depiction of misguided and struggling youth. It is surely important to portray both sides, if class is going to be brought into things.
The character Rhian is the main assailant; a violent and disturbed individual who rapes women. He is sick, twisted and his ponchant for sexual violence means that we don’t particularly care why he is so messed up. With Rhian confirmed as the outright villain of the piece, the filmmakers decide to make a cack-handed attempt at suggesting not all youths are this way. Whilst, in the right hands, this should be the right move for the film, the attempt lasts about five seconds before it is rescinded and is thus rendered pointless.
Whilst it must have been very easy for director Paul Andrew Williams to go to potential financiers pitching a premise that takes place entirely inside a house (i.e. it will cost nothing to produce), this is no excuse for haphazardly throwing together the cinematic version of manure. The editing is lifeless, the shot choices lack even the slightest creativity and the choreography (which should be integral to a piece based on claustrophobia and sustained threat in closed spaces) is clumsy, and reeks of inexperience.
What an utter mess. Do not take a turn down Cherry Tree Lane.
Give me Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers any day; modern innovative UK horror at its best.