- Cherry Falls
Directed by Geoffrey Wright Produced by Marshall Persinger Written by Ken Selden Starring Brittany Murphy
Music by Walter Werzowa Distributed by USA Films
Release date(s) 29 July 2000 (première) Running time 92 min. and 40 seconds Language English Budget ~ US$14,000,000
In the woods outside the small affluent town of Cherry Falls, Virginia, a teen-aged couple are getting romantic in a car when a black-haired female appears and murders them both. Meanwhile, in town, teenager Jody Marken (Brittany Murphy) - the daughter of the local sheriff - is with her boyfriend, Kenny (Gabriel Mann), who thinks it is time to go "all the way." Jody gently says no, then goes back home only to find her father, Brent (Michael Biehn), upset that she is out past her curfew. Brent and his deputies begin to investigate the murders the next day. They see that the killer carved the word "virgin" into both victims. At school, Brent sees English teacher Mr. Marliston (Jay Mohr), who urges him to divulge more details of the murder to students and the town so as to eliminate the possibility of secrets.
Soon, the apparent black-haired female kills another teen - again targeting a virgin. Concerned for the town's safety, Brent holds a meeting at the high school to tell parents the nature of the crimes. (No students are invited, but Jody sneaks in as does one of her friends, Timmy.) The killer appears, kills Timmy, and strikes at Jody, but her father rescues her. Word gets out in Cherry Falls about how virgins are being targeted. The school's worst fears are confirmed when a large-scale orgy is planned outside of city limits. At the police station, Jody describes the killer to an officer, who draws a composite. Brent confides with an old friend, Tom Sisler, (the current high school principal) that the suspect looks like "Lora Lee Sherman." The two are both visibly nervous, and Jody listens in on their conversation.
Later, Jody learns from her mother about the tale of Lora Lee. 25 years ago, Lora Lee was a high school loner. She claimed that four popular boys at school - including Brent, and the high school principal - raped her one night. Her cries fell on deaf ears and she left the city for the rural outskirts, where she was rarely seen or heard from again.
The night the student orgy begins, Brent goes to the school for a meeting with Sisler but he finds him dead in his office with the words "virgin not" carved into his forehead before Brent is knocked out and abducted by the killer and dragged away. Jody is riding her bike that night, as she has refused to have sex with Kenny at the party. She bikes by Marliston's house as he is dragging a heavy trunk inside. When Jody opens the trunk and sees her bloody father inside, she is knocked unconscious. At the orgy, Kenny is there with a girl who he plans to have sex with, but after thinking, changes his mind and goes to find Jody. He drives to find her but strangely sees her bicycle outside of a house.
Downstairs in that house, Marliston puts on a wig and makeup to "become" Lora Lee Sherman. Marliston reveals that he is Lora Lee Sherman's illegitimate son, then asks Brent to retell the story of what happened that night 25 years ago. Brent reveals that the four boys - including himself when he was very intoxicated - did indeed rape Lora Lee. Marliston says his mother became an abusive "psycho" after the rape and gave birth to a son (himself) fathered by one of the rapists. With a close-up of both Brent and Marliston's (identical) eyes, it is strongly implied that Brent is in fact Marliston's biological father. By frightening virgins, Marliston anticipated a large high school orgy (which is happening at that very moment), which would thereby rob all the wealthy parents of their precious children's virginity (just like his mother lost her virginity under less than ideal circumstances).
Kenny enters the house and frees Jody. Brent battles with Marliston, losing his life in the battle. Jody and Kenny flee to the orgy. Marliston follows and kills a deputy. He heads inside with an axe and mass panic erupts. After stabbing panicking students and then trying to escape, Marliston battles Jody and Kenny and he succeeds in severely wounding Kenny. Eventually, Marliston is pushed off a balcony by Jody and impaled on fence posts. At first, he seems dead but then he awakens briefly and is promptly killed by Deputy Mina who unloads two pistols into him. The next day, Jody and her mother head away from the police station after submitting a distorted version of the truth but not before Jody sees a vision of someone resembling Lora Lee Sherman.
- Brittany Murphy - Jody Marken
- Jay Mohr - Leonard Marliston
- Michael Biehn - Sheriff Brent Marken
- Jesse Bradford - Rod Harper
- DJ Qualls - Wally
- Candy Clark - Marge Marken
- Amanda Anka - Deputy Sheriff Mina
- Joe Inscoe - Tom Sisler, the Principal
- Gabriel Mann - Kenny Ascott
- Natalie Ramsey - Sandy
- Douglas Spain - Mark
- Bre Blair - Stacy Twelfmann
- Kristen Miller - Cindy
- Michael Weston - Ben
- Keram Malicki-Sanchez - Timmy
- Vicki Davis - Heather
- Rick Forrester - Deputy Beau
- Clementine Ford - Annette Duwald
- Colin Fickes - Dino
- Zachary Knighton - Mr. Rolly
- Rand Courtney - Dennis
- Bret McKee - Dylan Roley
- Joannah Portman - Sharon
- Ben Anderson - Young Partier
Casting and development
Stephen Lang was originally offered the role of Sheriff Marken, but scheduling conflicts prevented him from being in the film. Ted Levine was also considered for the role of the Sheriff as well. The role eventually went to Michael Biehn. Coincidentally, Biehn was an early favorite for a military role in James Cameron's Avatar, but Lang ended up getting the part.
Release and reception
The film was troubled by censor disapproval. It had to be submitted to the MPAA a total of five times before censors finally approved a cut.
The film was not released in theaters and was met with mixed reviews. One of the more noteworthy positive reviews is from Entertainment Weekly. Many reviews have described Cherry Falls as a cross between Scream and American Pie.
1980sLover Boy (1989) 1990s 2000sCherry Falls (2000) · Macbeth (2006)
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