Cherry Falls (2000)
By: Devon B. on October 31, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Magna Pacific (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 87 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Geoffrey Wright
Starring: Brittany Murphy, Jay Mohr, Michael Biehn, Jesse Bradford, Candy Clark
Screenplay: Ken Selden
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
In these wanton days of DVD excess it's sometimes easy to forget that for horror movie fans, a few years back, censors were the real slashers. Scream, which even by the standards at the time of release didn't seem particularly gory to me, was still cut to secure an R rating in the States. A few years later Romper Stomper director Geoffrey Wright ran afoul of studio censors with his movie Cherry Falls. I'm not sure how much extra grue would help this movie, but I doubt the missing footage is terribly excessive.

Cherry Falls tries to be a slasher with a difference, but because it's post Scream it comes off as trying to be hip to score at the box office. The basic storyline is unique, but I think it would've been better played completely straight, or at least as straight as the slasher movies of the early 80s. The story is that instead of offing the kids having sex, a killer is targeting virgins. Everyone's favourite Terminator tracker, Michael Biehn is a cop who figures out the killer's M.O. and is concerned for his town and for his own daughter. The question becomes whether it's best to give the kids a valid excuse to give into their hormones or just let them die pure (and violently).

While this killer won't leave the usual survivor girl, pretty much everything else in Cherry Falls is to formula. A blemish in the town's past spawned the killer, and the killer turns up years later to wreak havoc. The killer is pretty cool at times, attacking quickly and viciously; it really does seem like people could be dispatched easily by this slasher. You'll probably have figured out the "twist" ending well before it's revealed as the filmmakers drop plenty of hints, but I still like the killer. Other bits I didn't like so much. The film suffers from post Scream "clever" dialogue that's just annoying, and some of the "cool" kids would be nerds at any real school.

Cherry Fall's attempts at humour prevent it from becoming a serious horror movie, and it's never funny enough to be a pastiche. Jay Mohr is on hand, and I do think he can be funny, but here he's just a sensitive teacher with a bad hairdo that makes his head look ginormous. With not much to do, Jay is just one more element that doesn't reach full potential. Cherry Falls just never really clicks, but it's also never actually boring. I'm not sure if extra bloodshed would make it better, but what's left is tame.

Slasher films lost something around 1986, and Cherry Falls didn't bring it back.
Video
Cherry Falls is presented at 1.78:1 in a 16:9 enhanced print. The film looks sharp, with very few spots or dirt, and grain is minimal. The original aspect ratio is 1.85:1 according to IMDB, so at least we're almost there…
Audio
The two channel mix is fine. You can hear everything. Other regions got a 5.1 mix, so if you really like the film, an import may be in order.
Extra Features
Not a lot. There's the trailer; bios for Brittany Murphy, Mohr; Biehn, and Gabriel Mann; a plot synopsis (what the hell?); and production notes. Again, other regions got better deals in the extras department.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Worth a gander, but if you really like the movie I'd hold out for an uncut version, and given this is cut I can't give the disc even an average score. The film hasn't been released uncut yet, but it'll have to eventually surface somewhere. If you need the film right now, there's a Dutch release that includes a DTS audio track and is in the original aspect ratio, plus has some real extras. Cut or not, it's a shame the film never really figures out if it's a straight slasher or a satire, and as such doesn't really work as either. At least it's better than Scream 2.

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