CHERRY TREE [FrightFest 2015]

PrintE-mail Written by Joel Harley

Unless your movie is literally The Witches or The Wizard of Oz, the wicked witch is a hard horror villain to get right. Conjuring (heh) up images of hook-nosed crones with bright green Shrek makeup and a boil, you're so doomed from the start that most of the time it's best not to even bother. They're perhaps the ultimate horror hard sell.

That hasn't stopped director David Keating from trying though, his modern witch tale telling the story of a young girl who turns to a local coven in the hope of saving her dad's life. A deal is struck, though it comes with a catch. And quite the catch it is. A baby is required, leaving Faith knocked up as her dad begins his miraculous cancer recovery. What follows is like The Witches crossed with Juno, with a little bit of Society-esque body horror thrown in for good measure.

That's quite the mishmash of styles and ideas, and, regrettably, Keating doesn't always pull it off. Where the first half is slow and dull, the second is silly and dull, its cherry metaphors far too on-the-nose and obvious, just like the not-at-all subtle use of the colour red and suggestions that Faith might want to have sex with her dad a little bit. Had it been directed by a bona fide auteur with practice and vision, Cherry Tree might have stood a chance of pulling this off. Instead, however, it feels relatively cheap and small, too much like the director's previous Wake Wood.

There's some strong imagery to be found here and a decent cast (the centipedes steal the show) but where this cherry should pop, it merely fizzles out.

CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: DAVID KEATING / SCREENPLAY: BRENDAN MCCARTHY / STARRING: NAOMI BATTRICK, PATRICK GIBSON, SAM HAZELDINE / RELEASE DATE: MAY 2ND


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