MAINSTREAM FILMS

CHERRY FALLS

This horror film was written by Ken Selden and directed by Geoffrey Wright, and released in 2000. I saw this film on TV years ago, it was a pay cable channel, so it was edited. I always remembered it, and finally bought a copy of the unedited DVD. This is a teen slasher film, in the same genre of films such as SCREAM and I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, which seemed to gain a brief resurgence in popularity in the late 90’s-early 2000’s.

This story takes place in a city called Cherry Falls, VA. A serial killer, who appears to be a woman with long black hair (her face is obscured during most of the film) is terrorizing the city by stabbing teenagers to death and carving the word “virgin” in their thighs. When word gets out that someone’s killing virgins, the teenagers at the local High School plan a huge party for everyone to get together and find someone to have sex with. Basically it’s a big orgy.

Brittany Murphy (R.I.P.) stars as Jodi and Gabriel Mann is her boyfriend Kenny. They’re both virgins and Kenny had been pressuring Jodi to have sex, but she didn’t feel ready. She rethinks her stance when the news of the slasher and her victims goes public. Michael Biehn plays Jodi’s father, who is also the local sheriff, who is trying to solves these murders yet also appears to harboring a secret that may tie several prominent adults to this case. Jay Mohr also stars, playing the English teacher at the High School, whom many of the students confide in.

Despite the somewhat salacious premise of the film, and the double entendre in the title, this is a surprisingly intelligent film. I’d call it one of the better teen slasher films of the time. This due in large part to the talent cast, who look and act like real teenagers. In addition to Murphy and Mann, I’d single out Natalie Ramsey as Jodi’s best friend Sandy, DJ Qualls in a small role as a nerdy kid named Wally, Michael Weston as an a-hole kid named Ben, and Kristen Miller as Cindy, one of the sexually-experienced girls in the class, who later takes it upon itself to educate the virgin girls on what to expect at the big orgy/party. There’s also a funny scene at the party where Cindy and Ben are negotiating what it’s going to cost Ben for her to pop his cherry. Likewise, the adult cast is very good. Michael Bienh is one of those actors who I always felt should be a much bigger star, he’s good in everything he does. And Jay Mohr doesn’t play his usual smartass-type of character her, he’s very sincere. Amanda Anka and Candy Clark also stand out in their roles as a sheriff’s deputy and as Jodi’s mother, respectively.

Even with the unrated DVD the killings aren’t too gory, and the nudity is mostly implied. But there’s several good jump-cut scenes and screams here. And when it’s time for the big twist at the end to reveal the killer…I found it very clever. This is one very underrated film.

Chacebook rating: FIVE STARS

Available on Amazon and iOffer

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