Cherry Tree Lane 

Likely, that film opens with an unspeakable act that calls for retribution, and ends with said retribution being achieved. And in the middle are cat-and-mouse games and close calls and rounds of table-turning to keep conflict chugging.

Cherry Tree Lane, however, removes that midsection, condensing the story to assumedly real time. In between its bookends, which work, is content that does not. I give writer/director Paul Andrew Williams (The Cottage) credit for trying a new approach, but sometimes, templates are templates for a valid reason.

The film opens with roughly 11 minutes of quiet dinner conversation between a middle-class married couple (UK actors Rachael Blake and Tom Butcher, the former recently in Julia Leigh’s button-pushing version of Sleeping Beauty). Their evening is rudely interrupted by several youths who burst in, squabbling something about the whereabouts of their son and a tape. The guys restrain the homeowners and rape the wife (offscreen, thankfully); then smoke dope, watch rap videos, and invite over their girlfriends until Williams realizes the time almost has run out.

The cast members’ London accents are so thick, subtitles would be appreciated, but the DVD arrives without them. Viewers may ache for them at times, and trust me: There’s a lot of chitchat. Who knew a home invasion could be staged so dull and dour? —Rod Lott

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Sleeping Beauty DVD review   

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Rod Lott

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