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Film Review: Cherry Falls (2000)

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SYNOPSIS:

In the small town of Cherry Falls a psychotic murderer is killing off the virgins of the local high school.

REVIEW:

Cherry Falls is a satirical slasher film that seems like it is built for cult status. The story is silly, as many slasher movies tend to be. Still, the actors at least try to make the humor subtle without going into a meta territory like Scream or winking at the camera like later Nightmare on Elm St. movies. The gravitas that the main actors bring make the movie interesting and watchable.

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Cherry Falls is a town in Virginia where teenagers are being brutally murdered. Their dead bodies have the word “virgin” carved into them. As Jody Marken, played by Brittany Murphy, goes to school and find out about the fate of her fellow students, she soon finds herself being chased by the killer. The killer creates a scare in the community where all the virgins want to loose their virginity so that they will not be targets of the killer’s rage.

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For the most part the actors are the standard teenage slasher movie tropes. Hordes of twenty-somethings pretending to be teenagers acting like stupid stereotypes. You do not care if they die because they are painfully annoying. Brittany Murphy, Michael Biehn, and Jay Mohr are actually trying to make an entertaining movie and anything entertaining coming out of it is almost solely owed to their talents. The many other characters could easily be replaced by cartoon characters with names like “gay best friend,” “slutty friend,” and “loud-mouth bully.”

Brittany Murphy was an underrated actress who will certainly be missed. Her performance is vulnerable and believable despite the rather ludicrous material. Michael Biehn is sort of under utilized. He is the sheriff and Brittany Murphy’s father in the film. He is trying to make the script work for him but at times he seems like he is just annoyed with people. However, since he is playing an overworked sheriff, that attitude seems to work. Jay Mohr is great. His acting range goes from a subtle, calm one to a scenery-chewing ten.

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The movie is said to have gone through five attempts to the MPAA before the censors would approve it. That being said, it would have been so interesting to see a director’s cut of this movie. It does feel like there might have been a lot more gore and sex at one point but it was neutered for a more mainstream audience. It is the sort of movie that should draw a cult status form fans of horror that is not that serious or scary.

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The story is silly. The overall motivation of the killer is mindless. It is a tale of revenge but it is also chaotic and directionless. Much like Ghost Face from Scream, the killer spends a great deal of time placing his victims in scary positions and getting his butt-kicked by the protagonist. The teens discussing losing their virginity to save their lives is amusing and the inevitable orgy that ensues is laughable but makes the movie at least unique.

The movie is full of product placement for Coca Cola and other junk food. Not to the point of distraction, but many shots linger on desk or tables with Coke products. The movie does not seem to take itself too seriously but it also does not go to the level of being so over-the-top that it comes off like the characters are winking at the camera or just going through the motions to get their paycheck.

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Cherry Falls is worth checking out. If you are a horror fan or a slasher movie fan then this movie will entertain you. The film is just unique enough to not fall into the same camp as the horde of movies that came out during the Scream generation of horror movies. The great performances really make this hidden gem into something that hopefully finds more of an audience in a cult status and the ending kicks the movie into an insane gear, which will have the audience laughing at how over-the-top things get.

Bonus Features

    • NEW Audio Commentary With Director Geoffrey Wright
    • NEW Lose It Or Die: The Untold Story Of Cherry Falls – Interviews With Writer And Co-Executive Producer Ken Selden And Producer Marshall Persinger
    • NEW Cherry Falls Deputy Mina – An Interview With Amanda Anka
    • Vintage Interviews With Brittany Murphy, Michael Biehn, Jay Mohr And Director Geoffrey Wright
    • Behind-The-Scenes Footage
    • Original Script (BD-ROM)
    • Theatrical Trailer

Cherry Falls is now available on bluray per Shout Factory

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