Friday, April 8, 2016

CHERRY TREE (2015) (Blu-ray Review)


Label: Dark Sky Films

Rating: Unrated 
Region Code: A
Duration: 86 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: David Keating 
Cast: Anna Walton, Sam Hazeldine, Naomi Battrick

Cherry Tree comes to us by way of director David Keating who brought us the folk horror Wake Wood back in 2011. This time comes a new tale of black magic and witchcraft set in not in a creepy wooded area but in the heart of a working class neighborhood where a highschooler named Faith (Naomi Battrick) cares for her ailing father who is in the final stages of terminal leukemia. Faith is dumbstruck at the prospect of losing her father to his illness, at this time she is befriended by the new hockey coach Sissy (Anna Walton) who reveals a bit too easily that she is a witch belonging to an ancient coven of witches, who worship at the roots of an ancient cherry tree. She offers Faith a cure for her father in exchange for birthing a child, which Faith accepts, also a bit too easily for sake of believability, but she's in a desperate place and willing do do whatever it takes to save her beloved father. 

Her journey begins when she is told she must find a mate and procreate, to that end she beds a boy with a schoolboy crush on her, during the awkward copulation he becomes black-eyed demon after a centipede burrows a hole in his back, these centipedes are the witches familiars and are seen almost ad nauseam throughout the movie, though they are creepy little critters. His charred-black demonic image seems to be a nod to the demons from the movie We Are Still Here, burned black with spots of burning embers, either way it is a good effect. 

With a child in her womb Faith's father is cured during a witchy ceremony involving more of the multi-legged insects, a slit-throat, and loads of cherry juice, there is more cherry juice in this movie than in that once scene from The Witches of Eastwick, I have to believe this is an homage of sorts. From here Faith discovers there's more to the witchy bargain than she bargained for, but what did she expect, she made a deal with a coven witches to birth the Devil! 

The movie is creepy and a bit too enigmatic for its own good at times in that very little is revealed, explained or brought to light, it just keeps chugging along from one attractively shot scene to the next, peppered with some memorable moments of witchy weirdness and violence, which was alright by me. I was brought up on a steady diet of Lucio Fulci, so I am not one to demand full disclosure, just give me some creepy and weird imagery and I am good to go, and to that end the movie delivered the goods. There's a nice scene of Faith's friend coming to her aid which is paid off when she is set on fire in a really horrific way, albeit brief I found it effective. 

The build up on this one is slow, but at only eighty-six minutes you don't have to wait long for the frantic final few minutes which pay off nicely during an underground sacrifice ceremony that sort of turns into Nightbreed by way of Lord of Illusions, coming to a decent close until they tag on a woefully unnecessary and wrong-headed shock ending which made me all sorts of angry, a very cheap final shot, but not enough to write-off the movie completely. 

I give high marks to Naomi Battrick and Anna Walton as the teen and the witch, particularly Walton who was weird and creepy in just the right sort of way, a bit erotic and spooky, the way a modern witch should be. Battrick does good as the sullen and angsty teen who manages not to be too annoying, and who finds inner reserves of strength when she is called upon to, good stuff. 

Cherry Tree arrives on Blu-ray from Dark sky Films looking very sharp and detailed, shadow detail is fantastic, colors are vivid and the English language DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound mix offers some nice use of the surrounds creating some decent atmosphere. Optional English subtitles are provided. E
xtras are limited to a brief making of doc, a trailer and  trailers for Convergence, Deathgasm, Emelie and Traders, also from Dark sky Films. 

Special Features:

- Making Of (12 Mins) HD 
- Trailer (2 Mins) HD 

Keatng seems to have a penchant for folksy horror tales, we've seen him do rural black magic with Wake Wood, and now a contemporary tale of witchcraft, I enjoyed it, however, if you put too much thought into it it tends to strain credulity a bit, but on a surface level this was a fun watch. 3/5