CHERRY TREE

2.5 out of 10

Irish Production

Release Date: 23rd May 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: David Keating (Wake Wood / The Last of the High Kings)

Cast: Anna Walton, Naomi Battrick, Sam Hazeldine, Minnie Phipps with Valerie O’Connor and Patrick Gibson

Writer: Brendan McCarthy

Trailer: CHERRY TREE

cherry-tree_poster-1243x941

This dizzy horror clunker aims to be Dublin’s answer to the Italian Giallo horrors of the 1970s but ends up being more like Hollyoaks meets an arty zit cream commercial. Soft porn shenigans would probably excite Joe Pesci II (the other reviewer) but it didn’t do anything for me except wonder at how the director of the brilliant Last of the High Kings has ended up making flaccid horrors.

Naomi Battrick’s (BLOOD (2013)) schoolgirl makes a pact with her PE teacher played by Anna Walton (Deviation) to give her a baby, who with a little bit of black magic and unknown to school girl, may well be the devil. Argghhhhhh. In exchange, the PE teacher come witch will cure her father (SAM HAZELDINE – THE MECHANIC 2) of terminal cancer with some weird caterpillars (the only thing worth watching in the whole film is this special effect!)

Anyway, the plots gets equally derailed by having us follow around a stroppy, pregnant teenager, a baddy that’s about as scary as Count Duckula (poor Anna Walton a good actress trapped in terrible movies), and a confusing logic set. This is our humdrum world were ghosts hang around, ordinary people are devil worshippers and talented actors get upstaged by a handful of creepy crawlies. Some decent special effects aside and a few creative and bloody scenes aside, this is largely a snooze-fest. It’s not the worst Irish film I’ve seen, that could be the Vinnie Jones‘ starrer – Stories from the Bog or whatever it was called. But it could have been a bit more energetic and a bit livelier. Soft porn and gore aside, this isn’t worth recommending to anybody except perverted bin men… or Matt Usher , but even he didn’t like it. See review below.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THIS ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “CHERRY TREE

  1. review by Matt Usher aka Joe Pesci II

    There’s some excellent work from centipedes in this film (real ones, not that silly human nonsense). And the centipede wrangler seems to have done an excellent job (mind you, there was no disclaimer about animals not being harmed – maybe the centipedes didn’t make it out alive – or maybe they were CG? I just don’t know any more. But I do know the centipedes were the highlight, and indeed the only vaguely interesting thing in this underwhelmingly sub-average non-event of a film).

    But aside from creepy arthropods, what else does CHERRY TREE offer? (And there’s barely any sign of a cherry tree, I’ll tell you that for nothing) (OK, there’s a tree growing in some sort of Batcave where the villains are doing their villainous witchy villainy and devil-worshipping but it’s not much more than set dressing and I bet it didn’t have a single cherry on it) (just to be clear I’m not a fan of cherry trees in films particularly, but if you call a film CHERRY TREE I think you’re entitled to see and have reason to notice a cherry tree, particularly as there are a million other perfectly decent titles they could have used) (maybe they could’ve used a clickbait title/headline like: I’M PREGNANT – AND YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE WHO THE FATHER IS, or MY HOCKEY TEACHER REALLY SURPRISED ME WITH HER SCHEME TO CURE MY DAD’S CANCER, AND IT’LL REALLY SURPRISE YOU TOO, or BEING A PREGNANT SCHOOLGIRL MAY BE BAD BUT IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD; UNFORTUNATELY THAT’S GOING TO BE MY SON’S JOB).

    So apart from myriapoda scuttling about all over the place, and a tree which barely deserves to be titular, CHERRY TREE has little worth mentioning. Which is a shame because it’s a film about satanic deals, small-town conspiracies, confused teenagers, and how only witches can cure cancer. So it should have been fun, despite being more than a tad derivative.

    Our heroine is Faith (and guess what, the crucial action of this character is to make a leap of faith, so it’s a good thing nominative determinism exists in films otherwise she’d have been stuck), a teenager with a poorly dad and an ambition to play hockey. Unfortunately the new hockey teacher is an evil lesbian witch (literally, I’m not being mean – I made my peace with PE teachers long ago) who offers her a Faustian deal: have a baby and she’ll cure the ailing parent. Faith says OK and gets pregnant by a nice but dim and possibly dead bloke. Alas it all ends in tears as it turns out the evil lesbian hockey teaching witch bitch is also a bit of a fibber and doesn’t let Faith see the small print where there’s an important clause about the eventual child (and – dear lord – I’ve just realised there’s scope for a sequel). Obviously, everyone Faith has ever known seems to be part of the hockey teacher’s secret evil coven, despite most of them being little more than glorified extras.

    Anna Walton takes the plum role of the crazy PE-teaching devil-worshipper. Curiously she decides (or was told) to float about looking like she’s about to burst out laughing at any moment. The crazy-vampy-witch character should be a great role to play, whether you go all out for it in almost drag queen / Bette Davis terms, or whether you underplay it like some subtly creepy person I can’t think of off-hand.

    Walton floats along somewhere in between, neither one thing nor the other. Perhaps this is an attempt to keep you guessing; if so it fails. However, she’s the only member of the cast I can remember. I know Sam Hazeldine turned up as the terminal dad, and he did movie-suffering-acting – a hand held to the head, a swoon, a cough. All perfectly adequate. The lead girl I can barely recall, which may be criticism enough.

    The film just galumphs along like a tardy snail, bumping into non-set-piece after non-set-piece. The pace is slovenly, the story-telling confused and the whole thing is poorly edited. Characters turn up and vanish for no reason, and people who you assume are little more than extras and background artists turn out to be hugely important, but you haven’t had time to register them so you have no idea who they are, what they’re doing or why. The effects are poor (they shouldn’t have burnt the motorcyclist – not on-screen at least), and there’s some bad stuff with a copulating corpse. Centipedes apart, the film lacks creepiness (apart from the curious decision to set a fairly early scene in a schoolgirls’ changing room).

    The film-makers previously made WAKE WOOD, a surprisingly good film about resurrecting dead babies let down horribly by a final shot which undermined everything. You’d have thought the director would have learned. But no, this time round we have a final shot which is audacious, twisted and utterly stupid. The main difference is that whereas WAKE WOOD was a promising film let down by the ending, CHERRY TREE is only worth watching for the ending. It’s undeniably startling, and done with a sort of shameless aplomb which will make you jump, but it’ll also have you chortling through the closing titles and beyond.

    What makes CHERRY TREE even more disappointing is that it’s Irish. From time to time, we here at Britpic looks across the sea to Ireland (not Europe obviously, with its evil hateful Union from which St Nigel has saved us (sarcasm)), and often likes what it sees. Presumably a country (other than the USA of course) will generally try to export its best films, and so Britpic has enjoyed such oddities as BOTCHED, GRABBERS and THE CANAL (well, half of Britpic did – I thought it was a bit ordinary), but every now and again the detritus slips through and we find ourselves watching A CHRISTMAS STAR. Hopefully this Brexit thing will stop films like CHERRY TREE getting through in future (if not then what was it all for?).

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