First I want to start with just why this movie bugged me when I saw it. This must have been the most controversial horror movie to be released since Scream – what with the MPAA refusing to release it without major cuts to sex and gore scenes – so when I went to see it, I was expecting something a little more… exciting than what I received. Sure, the movie is entertaining, but the fact that most of the characters outside of the ‘father-mother-daughter’ relationship (i.e the best friend, boyfriend, teacher) are under-developed and barely seen on-screen gives the movie a very hollow and un-feeling mood. Maybe it is because I am really more of a thriller fan than an actual ‘slasher’ fan that I felt this absence of character interaction so stongly, but I am sure that many of you agree with this point.
Now onto the good things. Yes, that’s right, not everything to be found in Cherry Falls is all bad! To start with, there is a gritty realism to the movie, lacking elaborate and over-the-top death scenes apparent in most horror movies, and sticking mainly to things that could actually happen in real life. The cosy setting of Cherry Falls creates a very isolated and all-round uncomfortable atmosphere within the film, as slowly the ‘perfect, peaceful community’ cliche is done away with and the most horrific secrets are unveiled.
The killer’s costume is original and, again, very realistic – something you could imagine an actual killer wearing (this makes ghostface look ridiculous!). Plus the costume is clever in deceiving the viewer into sticking its supicions of the identity of the killer only to the female gender.. for much of the movie I suspected the killer was the mother, and my suspicions were greatened when she became so distressed over the rape. This leads me to another point: great acting! Brittany Muraphy and Michael Biehn were an interesting duo, Murphy in particular made a very unique heroine who wasn’t quite so clean-cut as most others before her, giving a dark edge. Other than the two leads, there’s not really much else to comment about with the other actors, considering they are all given a total of minutes screen-time at the most…
The paralells drawn between sex and death are well-explored, with parents having to question their own protectiveness over their children in a nice scene where they are told that kids are dying if they are virgins – the hsyteria that comes of this is well-expressed. There is some great suspense (particularly when they are strapped in the chair, and the chase in the school – which was breath-taking to say the least), and also some nice humor (a great scene is when a cheerleader-type explains the meaning of sex – and life – in a school yard).
The ending to the movie is satisfactory enough, with one hell of a shocking and violent death, but the scene in which the killer charges into the orgy house is played more for laughs than scares – which is a real shame considering how disturbing this scene could have been if played straight-faced.
While it seems to flounder in between wanting to preach an actual message while at the same time verging on the edge of being a spoof, Cherry Falls is still an enjoyable slasher despite its multitude of flaws. The cast is a joy, and there are a number of shocking deaths.