Wednesday, May 2, 2012

You're A Virgin Who Can't Drive - Cherry Falls (2000)

Cherry Falls may be the most criminally underrated slasher film of the last 20 years. After a battle with the MPAA who kept threatening to slap it with an NC-17 rating it found a home on the USA cable channel and straight-to-DVD release. Though it did well overseas, Cherry Falls is still a hidden gem in the horror genre. And dare I say it, the post-post modern horror film since Scream.

In the affluent town of Cherry Falls, someone is off-ing virgins. The town's Sheriff (Michael Biehn) and some of the other adults start getting nervous. The teens of this small town are now faced with the very real dilemma of "use it or lose it". Which is exactly what Jody (Brittany Murphy - R.I.P.) tries to do while solving the mystery as who this Laure Lee Sherman is that everyone keeps whispering about. It's a really simple but refreshing twist on the slasher formula.Because the film manages to keep the formula change simple they save a lot of time but not having to wink at the audience.

The damn shame of the movie is the cuts. There are some scenes left dangling and some that seem to pick up in the middle of the action which hint at something bigger. A couple extra scenes (MPAA be damned). This keeps Cherry Falls from being a pitch-perfect satire of the genre. What the film manages to achieve is the sense of a community with more secrets than it would like. The adults are either crazy or guilt-ridden which works in the film as they are just as big a part of the film as the teens. The film takes on an almost Twin Peak-ian tone with the oddities buried in this small town.

There is a definite sense of fun to this film that cannot be said for a lot of post-Scream slasher. At least, this one doesn't feel like a money grab. The addition of Brittany Murphy is particularly great. She manages to ride the normal with a side of crazy pretty well. She's likeable, relateable and fights like hell when push comes to shove. The film is odd enough to keep you guessing but I would have preferred a higher body count to make the urgency of a pseudo-orgy necessary and more immediate. They also placed too much emphasis on the final reveal which is not nearly as interesting as the overall comment of the film. And, again, the end happens oddly quickly which leads me to believe there are scenes out there that help make sense of the whole thing.

In the end, Cherry Falls is a great way to spend 80 minutes. It's way more imaginative and fun then it really has any right to be and it finally fulfills an unknown life-long dream of mine, to see Corporal Hicks and Tai in the same movie. It's surreal, wonderful and reminds me of what their real faces looked like.

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