A Forgotten Slasher: CHERRY FALLS

After the success of the "Scream" films of the '90s, many studios tried to recreate the magic for themselves. Some that stand out above the pack is Sony's "I Know What You Did Last Summer", which was based on a book of the same name by Lois Duncan and written for the screen by "Scream" creator Kevin Williamson. And Columbia's better-than-most attempt "Urban Legend", directed by Jamie Blanks who would go on to direct a similar film a few years later called "Valentine". But the one movie that isn't listed but did, in fact, capture some of the magic of "Scream" was little film from Rogue Pictures called "Cherry Falls", starring the late Brittany Murphy.

"Cherry Falls" attempts to turn all the pre-conceived notions about teen slashers upside down. Typically, in a teen slasher, it is virgins who are usually safe and in no apparent danger. The killer in "Cherry Falls" is actually targeting virgins. So, naturally, the teens in the film throw a Pop-Your-Cherry-Party.

The film takes place in the fictitious town of Cherry Falls, Virginia and follows a high school girl named Jody (Brittany Murphy), her father, the sheriff (Michael Beihn), her boyfriend Kenny and her teacher Mr. Marliston (Jay Mohr). The movie starts with two teenagers making out in the proverbial front seat of a big American car parked at Lover's Lane. Sounds cliche until it is later revealed that the word "virgin" has been carved into the inner thighs of the two youths.

The film is very tongue-in-cheek and appeals more to a smarter audience. Satirical in the very best of ways. A dumb slasher, it is not. Brittany Murphy was the absolute best person for the role of the hero in "Cherry Falls". Her acting is second to none. She plays a very vulnerable yet very brave and courageous protagonist. And let us not discount Jay Mohr's character. I mostly know Jay from some of the sports talk shows I had seen him in, and never really got to see the dramatic side of him. He's actually quite amazing in his role.

So out of the slew of "Scream" copycats that came out of the late '90s and early 2000s, "Cherry Falls" stands above the rest. It's just too bad the film didn't get a theatrical release as originally planned. And shame on the MPAA for cutting the film down to nothing. Maybe one day we'll get an unrated director's cut on Blu-ray or something; I can only hope.

"It's a hymen holocaust!"

Article originally published by Nick Meece on the Indianapolis Movie Examiner.
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