Film Review: Cherry Tree Lane
One of the most interesting subgenres of 21st century horror is the hoodie horror. Most prominently brought to life by 2007’s intense Eden Lake, the hoodie horror is a British originated genre in which aggressive teenagers and ‘chavs’ wage war, usually on older generations. 2010’s Cherry Tree Lane is easily the most realistic take on the genre; a slow burning, disturbing film about couple Christine and Mike (Rachael Blake and Tom Butcher), who find their quiet evening in together interrupted by a group of thugs looking for revenge on their son.
Clearly working with a low budget, director Paul Andrew Williams understands the importance of a good script and characterisation, and nearly all his characters feel like real people. Working with a youthful, fairly inexperienced proves to be a great call, with Jamayn Hunter excellent as a soulless villain who’ll stop at nothing to gain a measure of revenge, and Ashley Chin even better as the morally confused gang member. The two leads don’t have a lot to do is except scream and be tied up, but they give convincingly distressed performances. The direction, while low key and restrained, does manage to keep a palpable sense of tension and dread throughout.
The only real problem is the sheer lack of ambition. It’s only 77 minutes but taking place in one location, while claustrophobic, isn’t entirely thrilling (which really makes a film like 127 Hours or Buried seem like utter genius), and a lack of twists or developments make this occasionally dull. The ending, considering the lack of action, should be far less rushed as well; spending over an hour with the situation, you expect the climax to last more than a few minutes, and it is most definitely anticlimactic. It isn’t enough to spoil the film, but it suggests that Williams struggled with the bigger picture of the script.
While not as vital as Eden Lake, dark as Harry Brown or scary as Heartless, Cherry Tree Lane is an incredibly realistic and tense ‘hoodie horror’ that isn’t complete as an entertaining film, but is far better than a lot of its low budget contemporaries.
By Harry Ford