Cherry Falls

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This article is about the film. For the community in the United States, see Cherry Falls, West Virginia.
Cherry Falls
Cherry Falls film.jpg
VHS cover
Directed by Geoffrey Wright
Produced by Marshall Persinger
Written by Ken Selden
Starring Brittany Murphy
Jay Mohr
Michael Biehn
Music by Walter Werzowa
Rogue Pictures
Good Machine
Industry Entertainment
Distributed by USA Films
October Films
Good Machine
Entertainment Film Distributors (UK)
Release dates
  • July 29, 2000 (2000-07-29)
Running time 92 minutes
Language English
Budget $14,000,000[citation needed]

Cherry Falls is a 2000 American slasher film written by Ken Selden and directed by Geoffrey Wright. The film stars Brittany Murphy, Jay Mohr, and Michael Biehn.


In the woods outside the small affluent town of Cherry Falls, Virginia, a teen-aged couple, Rod Harper (Jesse Bradford) and Stacy Twelfmann (Bre Blair) 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, Annette Duwald, who is also 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 at school, Jody and Kenny reconcile, and later Jody learns from her mother about the tale of Lora Lee. Twenty-five 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. After Jody discovers the truth, disappointed with the hypocrisy of her parents, she visits Kenny at his house. They talk, and Jody being upset with her parents, tries to pressure sex on Kenny. He refuses, pushing her away stating how he would rather have sex with her because she wants to. She leaves and they end things between them.

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 due to violent 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.



In October 1998, Variety announced Geoffrey Wright as director. Wright promised an intelligent script full of irony.[1]


Cherry Falls was troubled by censor disapproval. It had to be submitted to the MPAA a total of five times before censors finally approved a cut.[citation needed] Although it was not theatrically released in the US, it played in the UK and Europe.[2] It premiered on USA Network.[3]


Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 46% of 13 surveyed critics gave it a positive review.[4] Doug Brod of Entertainment Weekly rated it A- and wrote that "it might just be the wittiest, most subversive teen thriller since Heathers."[5] AllMovie gave it a favorable review, writing, "Of all the teen slasher flicks that premiered after the wildly successful Scream series (Urban Legend, etc.), Cherry Falls will possibly go down as one of the most creative, but sadly unseen ones in the bunch."[6] Derek Elley of Variety called it "a semi-successful spin on familiar material that could build minor cult status".[7] Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club wrote, "Smart at times but not nearly smart enough, and peppered with good ideas it doesn't really know how to exploit, Cherry Falls is just good enough to make you wish it were far, far better."[8] Chris Parcellin of Film Threat rated it 3/5 stars and wrote, "It aspires to be another Heathers or Rivers Edge, but doesn’t make it."[9] Total Film rated it 3/5 stars and wrote, "If you're not already sick to death of the teen horror genre, you might want to give this a look."[10]

Matt Serafini of Dread Central ranked Cherry Falls number seven in a list of the top ten high school horror films from 1996 to the present.[11]


Director Wright won Best Director at Sitges Film Festival.[12]


  1. ^ "Wright to helm Rogue’s slasher thriller 'Cherry'". Variety. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Stoddard, Katy (21 December 2009). "Brittany Murphy's career in movies: every film – and what it made at the American box office". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Harris, Dana (13 September 2000). "Inside Move: 'Cherry' heads for USA Nets". Variety. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Cherry Falls". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Brod, Doug (6 February 2001). "Cherry Falls (2001)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Wheeler, Jeremy. "Cherry Falls". AllMovie. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Elley, Derek (2 October 2000). "Review: 'Cherry Falls'". Variety. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  8. ^ Rabin, Nathan (19 April 2002). "Cherry Falls". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Parcellin, Chris (17 March 2001). "Cherry Falls". Film Threat. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Cherry Falls". Total Film. 15 September 2000. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Serafini, Matt (4 December 2014). "Top Ten High School Horror Movies: 1996 – Present". Dread Central. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "'Gein' grabs top kudos at Sitges fest". Variety. 18 October 2000. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 

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