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Cherry Falls

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
Scream Factory
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Geoffrey Wright
Brittany Murphy
Michael Biehn
Jay Mohr
Candy Clark
Bottom Line: 

Cherry Falls is a film that deserved better. Made during the post-Scream slasher renaissance, this darkly comic and surprisingly slick thriller found itself at loggerheads with the MPAA, with the film failing to attain a rating even after multiple cuts. Ultimately, the film was denied North American theatrical distribution altogether and was picked up by the USA Network, who opted to air the film in an edited-for-TV version. Needless to say, Cherry Falls got the shaft, and wallowed in virtual obscurity until it received a rather unceremonious DVD release as part of a double-feature with the equally underrated Terror Tract (starring the late John Ritter). Word spread, however, and Cherry Falls gradually built up a small audience of fans and critics who appreciated this smart and effective flick. Now considered one of the best of the post-Scream slashers, Scream Factory presents the film as part of its Collector’s Edition series.

Welcome to Cherry Falls, Virginia; a quiet and tight-knit community where everyone knows each other’s names and, seemingly, everything else about one another. Still, there are secrets, and one nugget from Cherry Falls sordid past comes back to haunt Sheriff Brent Marken (Michael Biehn) when a vicious serial killer starts slashing the town’s teenagers. When word leaks out that this mysterious figure from Marken’s past is targeting virgins exclusively, the local teen population plans a massive party where the virgins among them plan to take themselves off of the endangered list.  One such virgin is Marken’s own daughter, Jody (Brittany Murphy), who he aims to keep safe from both the killer and the truth, but Jody finds out about daddy’s dark secret on her own, and the troubling revelation puts the devastated girl on a collision course with the killer.

Cherry Falls is a very polished and smart slasher that pairs a great cast of young actors like the late Murphy and Jay Mohr (as well as then-up-and-comers D.J. Qualls and Michael Weston) with established genre vets Biehn and Candy Clark. The direction by Aussie Geoffrey Wright is tense and atmospheric, filled with effective jump scares and nifty use of light and shadow, while Ken Selden’s screenplay deftly manages to balance humor and drama all the while giving our “teenagers” an authentic voice when compared to the verbal diarrhea spouted by Williamson’s Scream teens. It’s a really class production through-and-through, which makes its shafting by the MPAA a minor tragedy.

Even more tragic is the fact that the excised footage the MPAA found so offensive is held up in limbo somewhere between the USA Network and Wright, forcing Scream Factory to release the same edited-for-TV cut that was previously released on Anchor Bay’s double-feature DVD several years back. That’s not to say Cherry Falls is a tame film, however, as it features a surprising amount of gore, flashes of nudity (albeit in a morgue), and much colorful language. It’d probably be considered a hard PG-13 by today’s standards, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Scream Factory’s Blu-ray presentation is, as usual, superb, featuring an excellent 1.85:1 1080p transfer that offers a crisp and inviting image teeming with fine detail. The print is vibrant and well-balanced, with rich blacks and bright reds (appropriate given the film’s double-entendre title). The image is paired with a spacious and robust 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track that offers nicely organic sounding dialogue, potent bass, and a well-mixed set of environmental effects and directional cues that make great use of the surrounds.

Bonus features are abundant and include:

  • NEW Audio Commentary With Director Geoffrey Wright
  • NEW Lose It Or Die: The Untold Story Of Cherry Falls – Interviews With Writer And Co-Executive Producer Ken Selden And Producer Marshall Persinger
  • NEW Cherry Falls Deputy Mina – An Interview With Amanda Anka
  • Vintage Interviews With Brittany Murphy, Michael Biehn, Jay Mohr And Director Geoffrey Wright
  • Behind-The-Scenes Footage
  • Original Script (BD-ROM)
  • Theatrical Trailer

Cherry Falls has long been a gem lost among the films of the 90s/early oughties slasher renaissance, and Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release gives this film fine treatment in the guise of an excellent Collector’s Edition set that offers not only great sights and sounds, but a great collection of old and new bonus features that help to make this the definitive release of this sadly overlooked film. Highest recommendations!

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