As most horror fans remember, the late 90s slasher movie revival caused by the popularity of “SCREAM” was a bit of a double edged sword. Though Slasher movies were popular again and new ones hitting theaters one after another the slasher films themselves were practically just clones of Scream minus the clever humor, cliche twists and a really lack of sex and gore in it and focused more on the hot young “WB” style actors and actresses instead of the killer, gore, kills, twists or even genuine suspense. for me the most overrated pieces of shit from the 90s were “I know what you did last Summer” and “Urban legends” but little do alot of horror fans know that during that rather bad slasher boom there was a little slasher film that came out that indeed tried to be gory, had a sexual tone, did not focus solely on the hot “WB” actresses and actually tried to be clever by taking a very VERY tired slasher movie cliche and completely flipping it on its year, that little slasher film is CHERRY FALLS
In the small town of Cherry Falls a psycho killer that could be a man or even a woman is slaughtering the teens of the local high school. But instead of the usual horny dumb teens being targeted the killer instead targets Virgins teens instead! When the local high school kids find out the killer’s MO, they decide to throw a giant sex party to save there lives and along the way our main heroine played by the late brittany Murphy digs deep to find out a mystery about the killer that the town of Cherry falls has been trying to hide.
Now you have to give this slasher movie big credit for taking the very tired and expected cliche of “Sex equels death” and giving it a giant middle finger and flipping it on its ear, and DAMN do i give it big credit for it. Ive always thought that cliche of horror movies was overdone and sends a rather unrealistic, repressive and extremely puritanical message about human sexuality and i am glad that this film changed that and practically gives its victims a “FUCK OR DIE” message. its just a shame most horror fans dont know of this film because it was dismissed as another scream clone or has been forgotten by horror fans, so this definitely counts as a hidden horror.
Not only does Cherry Falls premise offer something new but the film itself is a decently made slasher film too. The killer is strangely eerie looking because your not sure whether its man or a woman at first but when the killer is revealed he/she is far more scarier and more psychotic then with a good motivation as to why he/she is killing off the town virgins and it certainly gives the film a more darker tone then before. Along with the killer the small town atmosphere is very well done and the teens and high school setting have a very strong late 90s teen movie feel to it (if you remember the 90s you know what im talking about) and yet unlike the teens found in alot of 80s slasher the teens here in Cherry falls feel rather realistic with reactions and feelings you would find from most teens who have found out there classmates are being murdered and the killer is targeting virgins. The film also addresses serious issues like teenage sexual activity, loss of virginity and peer pressure along with the adult characters hiding a past tragic event that the town sweeped under the rug that has a big connection to the killings.
Also noted is the acting by brittany murphy our main heroine in the middle of all the madness, Michael bein as the sheriff and father hiding a secret and Jay Mohr as the sensitive teacher are all rather well done performances particularly from Jay Mohr. Cherry falls also boast some tense Suspence and chase sequences particularly the last 20 minutes of the movie has a terrific chase scenes that ends in a sadly censored bloodbath. Now it pains me to get to this part of the review since i mentioned the word “censored” because the kills in the film were infact slashed to bits by the enemies of filmmakers known as the dreaded MPAA. As one watches Cherry falls you can definitely tell that the film was meant to be much more gorier then what was actually shown and you can definitely sense that most of the gore had to be left on the cutting room floor due to the MPAA. Supposedly the film was pretty damn gory but sadly had to be submitted to the MPAA 5 times before finally getting a rating, maybe someday well all finally get to see the true uncut gory version of Cherry falls but until then we just have the cut version, but you know what the film is still a well made and very different slasher movie even without the gore.
So if when you think about that late 90s slasher movie crazed started by scream and you get annoyed thinking about ” I know what you did last summer” or “Urban Legends” try seeking out Cherry falls to remind you that that craze wasnt all bad. With the films cliche defying premise, small town late 90s high school feel, a disturbed mean spirited killer, a Disturbing throughout and good acting, Cherry falls is the hidden gem in the pile of late 90s scream knockoffs. It would make a good double feature to watch Scream with Cherry falls right after to see two 90s slasher films that did something different with the slasher genre. – James J. Coker
P.S. if youre wondering why i tagged both “00’s horror” and” 90’s horror” the reason why is though the movie came out in 2000, the film has such a late 90s high school teen that one could mistake that the film came out between 1997 to 1999. so Im counting it as both.