The Bottom Line
- Good acting
- Overly basic plot
- Mean spirited
- Sluggish pace
- Stereotyped characters
- Starring Rachael Blake, Tom Butcher, Jumayn Hunter, Ashley Chin, Sonny Muslim, Jennie Jacques, Corinne Douglas, Kieran Dooner
- Directed by Paul Andrew Williams
- Rated R
- DVD Release Date: January 29, 2013
Guide Review - 'Cherry Tree Lane' DVD Review
For the past decade-plus, the UK seems to have been going through some sort of social crisis regarding the perceived increase in lawlessness of urban youth -- as manifested in the advent of slang terms like "hoodies" and "chavs" and by youth-gone-wild horror films ("hoddie horror") like Eden Lake and Citadel. (If Ils is any indication, France isn't immune to the hysteria, either.)
Whether this phenomenon is supported by crime statistics or is just overhyped by the media and politicians, I don't know, but either way, the latest (granted, it's more than two years old but is just being released in the US) "hoodie horror" outing Cherry Tree Lane feels like an irresponsible propagation of that paranoia. While the protagonist couple aren't exactly Ozzie and Harriet -- they have some marriage issues -- they're portrayed as innocent victims whose son is targeted for having the gaul to turn a criminal in to the police. The young and mostly black antagonists, meanwhile, are mean-spirited stereotypes: criminal minded, foul mouthed, illiterate, lascivious, culturally ignorant, weed-headed hip-hop heads with inferiority complexes born of teen moms and broken homes. Only one of the three -- and later, five -- captors shows any level of apprehension or empathy for the victims, but that doesn't cause him to raise a finger in their defense.
The mere fact that the villains in the movie are animalistic minority urban kids is not necessarily the damning part of Cherry Tree Lane, however. It's the tone of the film, which presents the events in as straightforward and "factual" manner as possible. This isn't a horror movie or even much of a thriller; it doesn't play up the fright factor like The Strangers or deliver bold, stylized artistry like Funny Games. Instead, it plays out in tedious real time -- almost like security camera footage -- going through various minutiae and tracking banal conversations in an effort to strive for "realism."
What it achieves instead is the feel of a reactionary "this could happen to you" propaganda film of yesteryear, a la Reefer Madness. If writer-director Paul Andrew Williams (whose previous effort, the horror-comedy The Cottage couldn't be more different from this one in both content and quality) is trying to make a good-intentioned social statement about class divisions, he does so in the most shallow, dunderheaded manner possible -- and as such, it comes off as hateful, pointless and alarmist.
No special features.