The terror of Cherry Tree Lane

DESPITE writing, directing and filming his latest movie, Cherry Tree Lane, in Muswell Hill, Paul Andrew Williams insists the film is not supposed to be based in the area he has called home for more than two years.

“I never mention where it is – it’s just supposed to be one of those type of properties. We never would have said that’s where it was,” said Williams.

In fact, he says, the idea was that the kind of invasion terror which is played out inside the home (in real life occupied by a family in central Muswell Hill) could happen anywhere.

After the much-acclaimed London To Brighton, the critics turned slightly sour on Williams’ second offering, The Cottage. But his third film – which he has again written and directed – is receiving a slightly warmer reception.

The story takes place entirely in the Cherry Tree Lane home, where a middle-class couple are terrorised by three youths, who claim their son has “grassed” on them.

But despite drawing comparison with a host of “hoodie horror” type films that have hit our screens recently – Harry Brown, Eden Lake – Williams says he categorically did not write the film with the emerging sub-genre in mind.

“It’s so annoying that people say that. I never like to look at it like a genre film, like we’re going to do the hoodie thing. I think about the story and you leave it to other people to work out where the genre lies,” he says.

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Instead, the idea came from much closer to home.

“I had an idea of doing something all in one house and then, when we lived in Crouch End, someone next door to us got burgled and I realised this kind of thing was really prevalent.

“It’s also about doing something in real time that didn’t give an audience what they wanted in terms of a reconciliation and to write something as real as possible, because in reality you would not always get all the answers.”

Williams says the fact that the house they eventually chose to film in was literally down the road from his own home was a total coincidence.

“From what I had in my head when I was writing it, this house was exactly the same. We looked all over London and it just so happened it was two minutes down the road, which was nice. But it genuinely matched what we wanted.”

Williams says he can mostly be found writing his various scripts in cafes in the area that lack wireless internet, in order to avoid distractions.

And it seems the local area’s coffee houses have helped him continue to be prolific. He is currently looking at working on something in the States, a sketch show and various other projects. He says the business is all about “spinning plates” and he’s never afraid of variety. He even says he’d love to try his hand at a big-budget blockbuster.

“I think it’s partly because it’s nice to do different stuff. I really couldn’t say there’s a model to it. It just happens there’s an idea and I think that’s a good story and that’s how it comes about,” he says.

No matter how many plates he has spinning, however, it seems the spectre of his debut London To Brighton still looms large – something which he says is both a blessing and a curse.

“On the one hand, it’s helped a lot because it kicked off my career and gave me a big reputation. But on the other hand, it’s unfortunate that whatever I do will always be compared to that film.”

o To celebrate the release of Cherry Tree Lane (18), the Ham&High Series has five DVDs of the film to give away.

Simply answer the following question: Who directed and wrote Cherry Tree Lane?

Email your answer to by Monday September 27.

The first five correct answers to arrive will win a DVD of the film. Please note: Entrants must state on their email that they are over 18.

Rhiannon Evans