Back when Japan was producing smart political satires disguised as gory horror movies, such as Battle Royale, Hollywood was in the middle of slasher movie resurgence, producing a seemingly endless conveyor belt of teen murder movies, however, there wasn’t many that could compete with Cherry Falls for sheer outlandishness and a tongue in cheek satire, which is partly why it still to this day it’s an entertaining watch, but also for the great acing from Jay Mohr and the sadly missed Brittany Murphy.
Cherry Falls, just like the greats of the slasher genre, is a mixture of dark comedy and frights. Writer Ken Selden cleverly dotted twists throughout the plot and although there are plenty of slasher clichés including the final girl trope and death of many under-developed supporting characters. The main elements of the mystery such as killer’s identity and their motive is very well handled, stopping the movie from ever getting boring or tedious.
However, the film does have it’s flaws. Director Wright conceived his film as a comedy/horror filled with sex and violence in slasher films, yes severe edits dampened both the these intended elements, leaving the movie feeling incomplete and slightly unsatisfying given the knowledge of what we could have experienced. This is especially noticeable during the movies finale, which lent itself toward some truly memorable and over-the-top set-pieces. Sadly, however, the studio’s choice to please the sensors mean that the ending wasn’t as memorable or drawn out as it rightly could have been.
As mentioned earlier, the acting by the main cast is particularly good, particularly Jay Mohr as a concerned teacher, while Brittany Murphy excels in the lead role, a virginal soul trying to survive a killing spree targeting virgins. The rest of the cast do a good job but never manage to reach the levels shown by the leads.
Cherry Falls is a film that had all the making of a great and in my mind remains superior to number of more widely released slasher-by-the-numbers flicks that flooded the cinemas and video rental shops of the time, namely Urban Legend (1998) and the downright lousy Valentine (2001), that said, it is far from perfect and would have benefitted hugely from a studio that was willing to double down on the absurd plot and gore, to make this a true competitor to king of the late 90’s early 00s slasher craze. Scream.