I loved Funny Games. In fact, home invasion horror is one of my favourite sub genres, but then you could consider me to be one sick, sick puppy. When I say I loved it, I actually mean in hindsight. At the time I felt shocked; things happened that didn't and shouldn't normally happen. There were no happy endings. The dust had to settle before I could decide what I thought.
In this experimental work by writer and director Paul Andrew Williams (The Children and London to Brighton) we see a middle class and not quite middle aged couple in a strained marriage. Their teenage son has got himself involved with the wrong crowd and they deal with it by tearing strips out of each other. While waiting for him to come home someone knocks on the door. Unfortunately for Christine (Rachael Blake) it's not her son, it's a group of his friends. They force their way in and lay in to her husband Mike (Tom Butcher) who spends most of the film tied up and helpless on the floor. Until the end that is, when he is perhaps made to do things he wouldn't normally do, merely to redeem his perceived inadequacies.
The horror here is not typical. It's the relentless determination that these boys have and the lengths they will go to in order to deliver punishment without remorse or a second thought. The whole stage felt completely normal to them. There were no rules.
The humour in some of the actor's performances are little light relief as they criticise their hostage's taste in films, frequently pause for a bite to eat and their prolific use of the word cunt (delete as appropriate). Funny Games was shocking and it worked on a level because it glamorised the violence, deliberately or not. Cherry Tree Lane is shocking because there is no glamorisation. The faultless acting not once made me doubt what I'd seen. The well lit blue setting and symmetrical props made it all pretty to watch, giving a stark contrast to the raw violence.
We don't see the sexual violence, that's played off screen. And ten minutes later you almost forget he just raped that woman. The tension and fear is created by forcing us, the viewer and the husband to constantly look away from it. The ending was perfect and left me not knowing whether to laugh nervously or gasp with fear.
And that's what home invasion is all about I guess. Your safe family home gets shaken and broken for good and there are no happy endings.
Out on DVD in the UK 13 September and in selected cinemas now.
The winner of the screener tickets and who will be making their way to London tonight is Daniel. Thanks for entering!