Cherry Tree Lane (18)
Friday 03 September 2010
Paul Andrew Williams set the bar so high with his scalding debut London to Brighton (2006) that whatever followed was almost bound to be a comedown, and his second film, black comedy The Cottage, duly fizzled.
His latest returns to the white-knuckle tension of the debut, and reveals it to be no fluke. A middle-class couple's dinner is interrupted by the doorbell, whereupon three youths (two black, one white) break in and take them hostage at knife-point. The spoor of Michael Haneke's home-invasion horror Funny Games is discernible, though here the malignity is not so motiveless: it seems the couple's teenage son is "a grass", and must now get his comeuppance. Rachael Blake and Tom Butcher are absolutely plausible as the terrorised pair, and Williams's extreme close-ups of them are unsparing. Like Haneke, the director creates a mood of violence while holding off from graphic depiction – this is no torture porn. Its suggestion of a conscienceless underclass will be as a red rag to more conservative souls, but you suspect Williams won't care. He's becoming a real player in the cinema of ordeal.
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