CHERRY FALLS (OCTOBER 14TH)
YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...
My need to watch a half-decent slasher film weren't entirely fulfilled the other day when I experienced 'Madman'. However as luck would have it, Lovefilm decided to give me another chance by sending 'Cherry Falls' through the post as my next rental film. I realise that some of you may be laughing at the inference that Cherry Falls is actually any good but hey, it's better than Madman, for sure. Technically, this shouldn't be on my '31 Days' list as the aim is to see movies that I haven't watched yet, but Cherry Falls feels like a bit of an exception. I only saw it the once, back in the cinema about 16 years ago and although I could remember a couple of scenes (And who the killer was) it felt as if enough time had passed to revisit it. I remember thinking it was a fun but rather dumb movie back then, but I was only about 17 so I knew that I might have a different take on it now.
Cherry Falls was released back in 2000 and was part of a flurry of post-Scream meta-slashers that were rubber stamped by excited producers. I remember the fantastic tag line that the film had upon it's release. If you haven't had it, you've had it. Genius. The story begins with a couple of teens making out in a car. The boy is trying to push for more when suddenly a car appears from behind, headlights filling their vehicle. The kid thinks it's one of his mates playing a prank but when he investigates he is brutally killed by a long-haired assailant, who then makes short work of the girlfriend as well. After another student is killed, the local sheriff (Michael Biehn) soon makes the connection that the killer is targeting only virgins. Dozens of youngsters are now at risk, including his own daughter (played by the late Brittany Murphy).
Cherry Falls is a movie with an interesting back-story, which has a direct impact on the film that was put out there. It didn't actually get a theatrical release in the US due to ratings issues – and with a $14m budget, ranks as the most expensive TV movies ever made. There were also on-set issues between Director Geoffrey Wright and some of the cast and crew, with some scenes being shot once and only once due to lack of time because of filming being behind schedule from the get go. The film had to cut some of the gore out to, which means that we only get a diluted version of what was originally intended. Still, regardless of all that, Cherry Falls is still an enjoyable (if flawed) slasher that deserves a bit of recognition.
The ironic premise, where a killer is targeting virgins (virgins are usually the safest in slashers) is an interesting twist on a well worn genre trope. The cross-dressing villain is also a nice touch - Jay Mohr dressed in a skirt and a blouse is enough to make anyone hide behind the sofa. Mohr is actually a rather sympathetic character and the script does at least attempt to flesh him out a little. There are a couple of scenes more than a little reminiscent of other (and better slasher movies) and there are oddities about the film too. Like, how does the killer know who is a virgin and who isn't? And why, towards the end of the film, does the killer change clothes midway through a chase sequence? It's these strange little quirks that make it feel a little less polished than some of its peers.
Brittany Murphy puts in a decent performance but her character is a little hard to work out but that's due to the writing more than her portrayal. The secondary characters on offer here though are a bit underwhelming, and when you compare it to something like Scream (Sorry, every modern slasher film should be compared to Scream!) it's feels a bit like a cheap imitation.
However, Cherry Falls has enough about it and it's only slightly unique vibe that makes it stand out a little. The final act feels a bit rushed and the whole thing feels like there were a few more good ideas in there that were never explored. Maybe they were but we will never know. Still, if you are after a bit of fun nostalgia then you could do worse things than tracking down Cherry Falls. It's worth rediscovering.