High School Horror: “Cherry Falls” (2000) Review

Favorite “High School” horror flick? So many to choose from, and yet most are only standard fare but one stand out that is the flip side of the coin to the Scream franchise. Cherry Falls! A psycho killer killing high school students of the town Cherry Falls one by one only this killer is choosing their victims who DON’T break the slasher rules. As in, you’re a virgin? YOU DIE! You play by the rules and are a good little boy/girl? You stay right where you are and don’t investigate the strange noise. YOU DIE! How freaking novel is this kick ass premise? LOVE IT!

I remember hearing about this in 1999 and was very excited, only it went through development hell, finally getting a straight to DVD release in my neck of the woods, which is a shame as it’s FAR superior to both Scream 2&3. When I saw it for the first time it was a nice breath of fresh air at the time as the whole Scream hype was certainly played out by that point in time.

The movie has it’s tongue planted firmly in cheek, it’s wickedly funny with a vicious mean streak. Sure, in my useless opinion, the kills could have had more red flowing and flesh flying but the killer was still MUCHO pissed off and attacked and killed their victims with aggressive passion. The girl getting her head slammed in the door was so rough, but also very funny. The eventual slaughter jamboree at the “pop your cherry” party delivered the third act pay off goods, very hilarious to witness, if not disappointingly cut short. Come on, give me an extra five minutes of the slaughter!!!

The movie also has this bizarre- though oddly hysterical, sexual undercurrent . Why is there so much ambiguity involving characters who have no right liking each other? Does your mom blatantly hit on your boyfriend while you watch and he enjoys it? Do fathers fall on their daughters and realize there’s sexual tension? Does your own mom kiss you a little too erotically on the lips? It’s all sooo taboo! What’s up with all this subtle smut??? I love it! It plays so well with the concept.

The writing and directing are competent and very funny. So much dark humor through out, I loved all the virgins getting sex tips from the token slut! Also, the eventual identity of the killer is out there and although redundant, I thought the monologue back-story was tragic and brutal. It served the movie nicely. One of my favorite scenes was when Brittany Murphy meets the killer for the first time and is chased through the High School with industrial techno blasting. Sublime!

Any lover of Scream should love this one, it’s very similar only it’s playing with a new set of rules!

–Vince Fontaine