CHERRY FALLS (2000)

Directed By: Geoffrey Wright 
Written By: Ken Selden 
Cinematography By: Anthony B. Richmond 
Editor: John F. Link 

Cast: Brittany Murphy, Michael Biehn, Jesse Bradford, Jay Mohr, Candy Clark, Bre Blair, Gabriel Mann, Douglas Spain, Natalie Ramsey, Kristen Miller, Michael Weston, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Clementine Ford 

A psychotic serial slasher starts a bloodthirsty murder rampage at Cherry Falls high school that only kills the local high school virgins. This leads to the local teenage population organizing a sex party in order to lose their virginity and thus no longer be targets


I am shocked I never reviewed this sooner. This is a film that usually is bright up every once in a while. it has a great premise that never seems to get a chance to rise up to its full potential. As even the parts that are crazy under another set of changes could have made the film a bit more respectable rather than ridiculed. This is a film that should have been bigger than it ever got a chance to rise to.

This film was part of the SCREAM clones. Teen horror films that were self-aware. That obviously flooded the market after that film’s success. This film tries to be more satirical and ridiculous at times then becomes more suspenseful.

Unlike SCREAM isn’t as smart though it does seem self-aware. This film also tends to go over the top a bit too much. That it’s not shocking anymore but common. Despite all the problems the film had behind the scenes something feels lost as envelope-pushing as the film could have been. It’s a film that deserves a do-over

The film’s hook is that it reverses the usual trope of sex equaling death. Here we have a serial killer who hunts down virgins. once the teenagers find out they decide to have a teenage orgy at a house party. Where the end of the film takes place.

Though the film can be sexual. Not much is really show. In fact, much of the orgy scenes were cut out to be able to get an R rating rather than an X. Though the distributors weren’t convinced and pulled a theatrical release. So instead the film premiered on the USA network. Where it was cut up, even more, to play on television. Though released in its R-rated cut in Europe. Where it had mild success.

The film isn’t great but does have a good premise. Luckily it obviously has a sense of humor about itself.

The film is scary when it needs To be. Though shockingly predictable, doesn’t spare us from trying to make everyone it can into a suspect. If anything its tone and just general weirdness set it apart. It does help explain its cult status.

This film stars Brittany Murphy. One of the few films where her star quality is used to good effect. Where she has the natural goofiness, quirkiness, and sweetness she usually brings to her parts. As well as one of the few she played a lead in that is rewatchable to a degree. She in fact is the only reason I bought this film out when it was released on DVD in 2000 and on a disc that included 2 other HORROR films that seemed to also air on the USA network. Her performance seems to be day and night as at times she seems lost and goes from silly comedic to deadly serious and in one scene experienced seductress out of nowhere. Even as her character is a virgin.

Due to ongoing censorship issues with the MPAA, the film was never given a theatrical release in the United States and was released as a TV movie on the USA Network. As a result, Cherry Falls is the most expensive television movie ever produced, with a budget of around $14 million. Though it has a pedigree behind it. A rather solid cast with some strange elements.

The film actually shows comedian Jay Mohr more as a character actor rather than just a comedic presence.

The film is funny sometimes I intentionally. As it is ridiculous a lot of times and could easily become camp if the director was more on that wavelength.

Though the film has more of a 1990’s feel. It is almost the 1980’s inspired by it’s simple easy attitude.

Grade: C-

THE INFORMANT (2009)

Directed By: Steven Soderbergh 
Written By: Scott Z. Burns 
Based on the book by: Kurt Eichenwald 
Cinematography By: Steven Soderbergh (As Peter Andrews) 
Editor: Stephen Mirrione 

Cast: Matt Damon, Melanie Lynskey, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale, Clancy Brown, Tony Hale, Ann Dowd, Rusty Schwimmer, Eddie Jemison, Tom Papa, Rick Overton, Thomas F. Wilson, Scott Adsit, Andrew Daly, Ann Cusack, Patton Oswalt, Tom Smothers, Paul F. Tompkins, Candy Clark

Mark Whitacre has worked for lysine developing company ADM for many years and has even found his way into upper management. But nothing has prepared him for the job he is about to undertake – being a spy for the FBI. Unwillingly pressured into working as an informant against the illegal price-fixing activities of his company, Whitacre gradually adopts the idea that he’s a true secret agent. But as his incessant lies keep piling up, his world begins crashing down around him. 


Based on a true story. 

This seems like the perfect set-up for a comedy a rather dry one. 

The film starts off a little haphazard at first laying its groundwork. That at first is confusing, but you get the full picture as the film goes on. The first half of the film also feels a little pretentious as it seems to feel it’s the smartest kid in the room and has jokes and humor that seems to be inside and to itself, but the film becomes more interesting and compelling as the film goes on. 

Though there are many good actors in the film their roles are so small they never get a chance to shine. Quite a few stand-up comedians in the cast. I believe more for their improved skills and ability to punch up the lines to have a humorous stance, but most of them play straight and deadpan where as the dramatic actors are playing more comedic roles. Which i believe is another cinematic experiment by director Steven Soderbergh to subvert genre rules and play with the material. 

The film is practically a one-man show for Matt Damon who gained weight for the role. Already a great actor. He is certainly having fun here while portraying a three-dimensional real character. 

It’s always nice to see Scott Bakula on screen a character actor. Who always seems to pop up in the odd film. Who I always feel should work more though it may be my hero-worship of him from the Tv Show QUANTUM LEAP. 

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to Mr. Soderbergh and his movies. I applaud his filmmaking skills and the fact that he brings more experimental techniques and direction to mainstream films. The problem is that at times it generally distracts and makes you pay more attention to it. Then the actual story that is onscreen can work if it’s a story you’ve seen many times (ERIN BROCKOVICH) before or the films. Theme and plot are thin or more of a character study, but if it’s a straightforward film it can be a bit much. I respect and honor him for it, but at times it feels a bit much. 

What works here is that in his head Matt Damon’s character is playing this espionage mission and is a hero and has convinced himself that he is the innocent hero and his employers are the villains when in actuality he is the villain, yet see’s himself as a double agent and is able to convince others of this. Only it’s not an exciting action-packed cat and mouse situation, but the most mundane and boring business double-dealing. It’s a nice and interesting contrast considering we have seen Damon actually play a character in life or death Espionage action films in The Bourne Trilogy 

In an NPR radio interview, Matt Damon said that Steven Soderbergh, to get Mark Whitacre’s final apology to the judge just right, directed Damon to perform the lines as if he were accepting an Academy Award. (Damon said it was an example of “perfect direction”.) 

The mood of the film comes off as a timely classic period piece though it is thoroughly modern. Steven Soderbergh makes films full of ideas that might not always work for general audiences, but at least he is trying you get a general sense of excitement behind his films as he is actually thinking far ahead while in the moment. This doesn’t make for the fastest most exciting moments while watching the films. Once you are finished watching the film though it does leave you to think more about what you have seen. it stays with you a bit longer. You just don’t dismiss and forget. It’s not exactly disposable. That is what a true artist as a director brings to the screen. 

The film purposely styles itself like a classic 70’sfilms in tone and mood. Even its titles and score by Marvin Hamlisch. This also leans it more towards the Pretentious style or maybe I am being a bit harsh and it’s more a homage. 

I realize that at times Soderbergh more goes for the documentary-style where he seems like he is filming as it really happens. I give more kudos to the cast for never breaking and making the mundane of the character believable. 

The film starts off as a guy who tells a lie to get out of trouble and the lie just snowballs bigger and bigger leading to a bunch of lies and when he finally gets caught. He tries to lie and deal his way out. The thing is as he is lying at times he even seems to believe the lies but ends up destroying many lives for nothing while still feeling and portraying the victim not understanding or refusing to see why people are mad at him. 

I believe his character appears to want to be the rebel because he believes he is always being slighted but wanting to be popular also and believing he is the smartest guy in the room. 

GRADE: C+

BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE PLAYER (1992)

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Directed By: Fran Rubel Kuzui
Written By: Joss Whedon
Cinematography: James Hayman
Editor: Jill Savitt & Camilla Toniolo 


Cast: Kristy Swanson, Luke Perry, Donald Sutherland, Rugter Hauer, Paul Ruebens, Andrew Lowery, David Arquette, Candy Clark, Hillary Swank, Stephen Root, Sasha Jenson, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Thomas Jane, Randall Batinkoff, Mark DeCarlo, Paris Vaughn, Michele Abrams 

Buffy Summers has the lifestyle any young woman could want. Cheerleading, dating the captain of the basketball team, and copious amounts of time spent shopping with friends. She had no idea of her true calling until a mysterious man named Merrick approached her and told her that she is the Slayer; one woman called to defend the world from vampires. Reluctant to concede to the fact, Buffy soon learns that Merrick speaks the truth and so begins to take her new life seriously while trying to maintain the sense of normality her life had once been. With her best friends slowly abandoning her, Buffy finds solace in the town outcast, Pike, who knows very well the terrors that have arisen. Together, they combat the forces of the old and powerful vampire, Lothos, who has his eyes set on Buffy.

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