Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Scream Factory Takes Us Back to "Cherry Falls"


So many great misplaced slasher films of the late 1990s and early 2000s exist that Scream Factory could put out a couple of these Blu-ray debuts a month and never run out. One that turned the horror sub genre on its heels is “Cherry Falls.” The underrated movie was directed by indie auteur Geoffrey Wright (“Romper Stomper,” “Macbeth”) and stars the late talented Brittany Murphy (“Clueless”), Michael Biehn (“Terminator,” “Aliens”) Jay Mohr (“Hereafter,” “Jerry McGuire,” and Gabriel Mann (“Revenge”).

A serial killer is stalking the peaceful town of Cherry Falls. At first, it seems that he is just targeting teenagers, but after the third killing it becomes clear that all the victims have been virgins. When the town's students hear about this, they realize that there is only one way to protect themselves and begin planning a party where they will all lose their virginities together. Meanwhile, Jodi (Brittany Murphy), the virtuous daughter of the town's sheriff (Michael Biehn), decides to take matters into her own hands and trap the killer herself in “Cherry Falls.”

Just about everything in “Cherry Falls” is somehow clever and quick-witted. First of all, just take a minute to ponder the name of the town. The concept of a killer taking out virgins instead of disreputable teens is also something the movie has going for it. Another asset is a well thought out script by writer Ken Selden with a surprise reveal that hearkens back to the suspenseful who-dun-its like “Prom Night,” “My Bloody Valentine,” and even the later “Scream” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying “Cherry Falls” is perfect by any means. There are plenty of stale performances and overacting from a largely young cast. Honestly, that’s my only complaint about the movie.

“Cherry Falls” is rated R for strong violence / gore, teen sexuality, language and some drug content. There’s plenty of talk about sex, but no nudity. If you saw the movie when it premiered as the most expensive TV-movie on the USA Network, I’m sure most of the language and graphic violence was nowhere to be found. The version we get here is the home video cut, which features folks getting axed in the head and being impaled. Most of the killing is performed offscreen, however, in the fine fashion of “Psycho” and other early thrillers.

Scream Factory offers up plenty of bonus material for genre enthusiasts to get excited over. New audio commentary with Director Geoffrey Wright is provided. There are interviews with Writer Ken Selden, Actress Amanda Anka, and Producers Eli Selden and Marshall Persinger. We also get vintage interviews with Brittany Murphy, Michael Biehn, Jay Mohr, and Director Geoffrey Wright. Behind-the-Scenes footage is found as well. A theatrical trailer and the original script round out the special features.

“Cherry Falls” is one of the more adept entries in the slasher genre. Much of this is owed to the combination of a sincere performance from Brittany Murphy, an ingenious turnabout in plot, and the familiar use of a surprise ending. It’s an enjoyable addition to a horror fan’s home entertainment collection.

"Cherry Falls" is available now on Blu-ray.

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