I never got around to seeing Cherry Falls until this new Blu-ray release. It’s not entirely my fault since the film lingered in post-production purgatory before being aired edited for television on USA. Now finally seeing the uncut version, and learning more of the backstory, I think its fate was sealed before production even wrapped.
Cherry Falls has a great idea. A serial killer is targeting virgins, so the slasher movie equation of sex = death is reversed. Sex will now be your salvation. But Cherry Falls never really figures out how to twist the horror trope so it ends up being just another slasher knockoff.
There are some nice scenes of teens who don’t really like each other agreeing to hook up just to lose their virginity before the killer strikes. More of that would have been great. Instead, the whole mythology of the killer is just distracting. Focus on the virginity M.O. and exploit that twist on horror.
The film looks great on Blu-ray. 2000 was recent enough that the film is clean, and this is back when indies were shot on film. It’s also so far back bad Avid effects that give away the hasty post-production. Running the footage unaltered would look fine. Using drop frames and slow-mo only looks like you’re an amateur Avid editor.
The behind the scenes documentary is the real story of Cherry Falls. It includes details on indie studios that no longer exist, including the ones who passed. The producer recalls that director Geoffrey Wright’s ambition was to shoot it like Vertigo. Oh honey. Maybe just aim for scene to scene coherence. Needless to say, Cherry Falls does not resemble Hitchcock, and the reasons why are further revealed.
Wright fell so far behind in production, they had to cut scenes out of the script. That explains why the satire was missing, no matter how much they talk about it being intended as a satire. What remains is what was barely shot before they lost the actors and locations, so it’s hardly Vertigo.
The film was further compromised by a poorly conceived decision on Wright’s part to shoot the teen orgy scene nude. It was written to be occurring under a sheet. So with a long sequence of naked bodies, of course it all got cut by the MPAA. Dude, you can’t show that explicitly. The point is to allude to it. But now it’s Blu-ray. Where is all that footage? This is several distributors ago so nobody probably saved it.