Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Pits: "Cherry Falls" (2000)

"Cherry Falls" boldly struts onto the horror genre stage, bathed in self-importance and confidently carrying the air of "something new." It is one of the most unpleasant movie experiences of my life.

Flavor of the month Brittany Murphy is Jody, a pasty high school student having problems with her horndog boyfriend Kenny (Gabriel Mann). Kenny wants to do it, Jody does not, and the two break up. This occurs the same night another teenage couple are hacked to death. Jody's dad is Sheriff Marken (Michael Biehn), who stoically investigates the killings.

After another student is killed, Marken goes to the high schoolers' parents with a tidbit of information- the killer carved the word VIRGIN into the victims, and it seems the victims were in fact virgins. This causes a giant uproar, as the students decide the only way to save themselves from the killer is to have sex, and the parents half heartedly say no. Jody is attacked at the meeting, and has a sketch done of the killer. The killer is identified as a girl who disappeared from town over two decades before, and suddenly town secrets start rising to the surface. Jody does her own investigation, and the prerequisite bloody climax (sorry) occurs at the giant high school sex party.

This film made me sad. The director went with a bunch of browns and earth tones, the likes of which I have not seen since I last changed my son's diaper. All the students have a pasty look to them. Everyone seems to wear black, even the sheriff and his deputies sport the latest in brown wear. This is depressing to watch. I also came to hate every character in the movie. When watching a slasher film, one should not feel more sympathy for the killer than for the victims. All the adults here are troubled alcoholics who are quick to get into dumb fistfights (the school meeting). All the high schoolers here are stupid horny pot heads who make jokes about the killings. Why bother hoping these people make it until the end of the film?

Wright, who somehow went from directing "Romper Stomper" to this mess, gets some real mean murders out of his film. However, he also falls for every damn cliche you have seen in every other damn slasher film. From the jump cut (heroine bumps into someone who turns out to be harmless), to the villain coming back to life one final time, I wanted to throw something at the screen. There is a germ of morbid humor near the end of the film, watch for a severed hand in a student's hair, but it is too little too late.

"Cherry Falls" is bathed in unpleasantness. I thought I was going to need a shower after this. Hopefully, this new round of slasher flicks is ending so we can wait another twelve years for "something new" to come along. "Cherry Falls" and should have stayed down. (*) out of five stars.