If anything, “Cherry Falls” is a valiant attempt to deliver a game changing slasher film that tries to challenge the conventions of the sub-genre left and right. It has all the right ingredients for one excellent horror film, but in the end is just a fine and serviceable genre entry. I wouldn’t be so quick to say it’s mediocre, but compared to a lot of other “Scream” clones released at the time, “Cherry Falls” is a fine companion piece. It’s not often we get a slasher film about a knife wielding killer hacking virgins to death. This time rather than slut shaming as we saw in “Scream,” the victims are punished for not having sex, and that’s a formula that almost works. Almost.
“Cherry Falls” also has a good time delivering something of a pseudo-giallo tone, where our slasher is a shadowy figure with black gloves who delights in hacking up teenagers in the worst ways possible. Set in the town of Cherry Falls, Virginia, a long haired killer donning black clothing is roaming around town and seemingly slashing teenage virgins in about as gory a manner as possible. What feels like some isolated incidents are quickly concluded to be a string of serial murders, as the town sheriff and his unit deduce the victims being targeted specificially have not lost their innocence quite yet. “Cherry Falls” takes a lot of time to delve in to the darker underbelly of the suburban aesthetic delving in to a lot of sinister undertones that only adds to the demented tone of the film.
There’s the seductive mom of protagonist Jody, the town sheriff who may or may not have an attraction to his daughter, Jody’s boyfriend who craves sex with her to the point of physical harassment, and Jody who is undoubtedly attracted to school teacher Mr. Marliston. Wright is adept to building tension, including some brutal and fierce chase and murder scenes that convey the anger and savagery of the mystery slasher roaming around town. One scene in particular involves the slasher bashing a victim’s head between the door and doorway of her house, and a foot chase with Jody ends in her smashing her head in to a locker. “Cherry Falls” does its best to take the events very sternly with writer Ken Selden exploring the crimes of rape, revenge, and small town secrets, but the wheels quickly fall off as the narrative slowly unfolds and reveals the basic idea behind the individual murdering local teens.
From there the film inadvertently takes on a whole new vein of camp, with a plot with all the towns’ teens to stage an orgy to beat the killer to the punch, and the climax involving a riot with a bunch of half naked teens and our killer. There’s also the comically terrible final scene involving blood soaked rivers that make zero sense, and is pretty goofy in retrospect. Brittany Murphy also stalls a lot of the film’s intended drama with an awful performance, but thankfully director Wright places her alongside a lot of other more competent actors including Michael Biehn. That said, “Cherry Falls” is a solid and entertaining slasher flick for a boring Friday night, and while it’s not a classic, it still tries for an unorthodox and original slasher entry and hits more times than it misses.
Featured on the Blu-Ray from Scream Factory is an audio commentary with director Geoffrey Wright, who provides information about the production, the troubles encountered while filming, the untimely death of star Brittany Murphy, and his experiences working alongside her and everyone else. “Lose it or Die The Untold Story of Cherry Falls” is a twenty four minute look behind the creation of “Cherry Falls” with writer Ken Selden and producer Marshall Persinger. They go in to a lot of depth about the production, the making of the film, and reveal some cool information for fans.
“Cherry Falls Deputy: Amanda Anka” is a seven minute interview with actress Amanda Anka who plays the bad ass deputy of the film. She discusses her career, making the movie, the audition and working with director Wright. There are six minutes of vintage interviews with the cast including Brittany Murphy, Micheal Biehn and Jay Mohr, respectively. There’s a standard Behind the Scenes segment clocking in at four minutes, and finally the original theatrical trailer for the film.