BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR-SEASON ONE
(***)-VITO CARLI

"...an eerily disturbing limited series"

Fresh, Juicy and Satisfying

(092421) Brand New Cherry Flavor is an eerily disturbing limited series on Netflix that updates the body horror genre for the Me-Too era. It was obviously heavily influenced by the works of David Cronenberg, David Lynch, as well as the Alien films, and it adds some unexpected twists.

The film is based on Todd Grimson’s 1996 novel of the same name, and it was created by Nick Antosca and Leonore Zion. Anatosca and Zion are principle (but not sole) writers on this series and they have worked together previously in the horror anthology tv series: Channel Zero. Various directors worked on different episodes.

The glitzy and decadent Hollywood atmosphere with malignant forces lurking in the background could have come straight out of David Lynch’s Lost Highway or Mulholland Drive and the "Hollyweird" imitations they spawned like Under the Silver Moon. Despite its convincing setting, the whole thing was shot in Vancouver, Canada.

Brand New Cherry Flavor stars Rosa Salazar (from Alita: Battle Angel and The Maze Runner films) who is terrific in the lead. Her co-star Catherine Keener is endearingly sinister playing Boro (Catherine Kenner) the sorceress, and Manny Jacinto (from The Good Place) plays the film maker’s friend and former lover who is too nice for his own good.

The film is about a determined young film maker, Lisa Nova (Rosa Salazar) whose student horror film means everything to her. Although Nova seems nearly as wide eyed and innocent as a doe, there is also darkness within her and she gives you the impression that she is not to be trifled with. She is contacted by a formerly successful Oscar winning film maker, Lou Burke (Eric Lange) whose career may be over. He agrees to champion her film and introduce her to the right people so that her film can be remade on a bigger budget.

In short, Burke agrees to produce and then steals her film, so he can direct it himself and revive his career. If that isn’t bad enough, he sexually harasses her, and takes it badly when she spurns his advances. He’s a high-powered Hollywood sleazebag like Harvey Weinstein and thinks his privilege and name gives him the right to do anything.

Nova is emotionally destroyed by the experience and goes to a witch named Boro (played by 80’s Indy star, Catherine Keener) who agrees to use magic to help her get revenge. Like all who dabble in the black arts, Lisa must play a steep price. Every night she has to painfully vomit up a kitten which somehow gives Bora, mystical power, or sustenance. This part was not in the novel and in a recent interview, the co-creator Zion said that one of her greatest fears was vomiting which is why she included this plot element in the script. The cat vomiting is tied to future revelations about Lisa’s upbringing and the story of a supernatural jaguar. There's also a scene in which Nova expels a kitten through her abdomen which reminded me of the birth parody scene in the original Alien film and also a similar scene in Dave Cronenberg’s Videodrome.

Nova also gets romantically involved with a handsome actor who correctly sees early on that getting involved with her is extremely dangerous, but somehow this makes her even more attractive to him.

By the end of the film much of what we know goes topsy turvy and the innocents become experienced, the good girl becomes a femme fatale, friends become enemies and some heroes becomes villains or something in between.

The film also includes zombies, cannibalism, sexual magic, a ripped-out eyeball, sexual harassment, and assault plus other weird scenes of violence, and it is definitely not for kiddies.

Viewers might be disappointed to find that not all the plot lines are resolved, and we never really find everything out about Nova’s connection with the mystical jaguar (although this is a limited series, one of the creators indicated that he has does not ruled out that there will be a second season). The film also becomes more morally ambiguous and characters switch roles as it goes on.

After the uncommonly strong opening, the ending feels rushed, ill conceived and anti climatic. But there is enough good acting, macabre plot twists and scary moments along the way to please all but the most particular horror film fans.
 

Episodes Directed by:    Gandja Monteiro, Jake Schreier, Matt Sobel, Nick
 Antosca, Arkasha Stevenson
Episodes Written by:    Nick Antosca, Haley Z. Boston, Matthew Ross
 Fennell, Todd Grimson, Lenore Zion, Christina Ham,
 Mando Alvarado, Alana B. Lytle
Starring:    Rosa Salazar, Catherine Keener, Eric Lange
Released:    081321
Length:    342 minutes over eight episodes
Rating:    TV-MA
Available on:     At press time series is available for viewing on
 Netflix

For more writings by Vittorio Carli go to www.artinterviews.org and www.chicagopoetry.org. His latest book "Tape Worm Salad with Olive Oil for Extra Flavor" is also available.

BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR © 2021 AI-Film
Review © 2021 Alternate Reality, Inc.