Cherry Tree (2015) Content Warning: Violence, Sexual Scenes, Occultism, Bad Language
Cherry Tree (2015)
Directed by David Keating
Starring Naomi Battrick, Patrick Gibson, Sam Hazeldine, Leah McNamara
Faith's world is turned upside down after she finds out that her beloved father is dying. When the mysteriously alluring Sissy Young becomes her field hockey coach, Faith finds a ...
IMDb Rating: 3.9
Cherry Trees and Witches
I suppose Cherry Tree is supposed to be a modern update of Rosemary’s Baby. A schoolgirl, Faith (Naomi Battrick), makes a deal with oddball hockey coach Sissy (Anna Walton) to have a baby in return for a cure for her father’s cancer. Of course, this baby is going to be a devil-child and bring the world into darkness, or something like that anyway.
I can’t help but feel the makers blew the budget on special effects. In fairness, there are some good ones; particularly the Cenobite-like makeup towards the end. The film is quite bloody in places, and there’s some use of CGI, both of the reasonably-good and utterly-awful variety. Unfortunately, aside from these special effects, the rest of the movie falls rather flat. Primarily because it’s a bit of a rushed mess. Let’s take Sissy for example. She’s the head-witch of a Mafia-like coven that everybody and their mother seems to be involved with. Having manouvered herself into the role of girl’s hockey coach, she wastes no time in propositioning Faith.
Similarly, Faith wastes no time in accepting Sissy’s offer. She runs off in horror when first witnessing Sissy’s occultist shenanigans, but quickly changes her mind and returns to hear Sissy out. I get it, your father’s dying and you want to save him. Many would make a deal with the devil to save a loved one. Yet the ease with which she is convinced this is a prudent choice just seems forced.
Herein lies the problem. Everything is forced. Sissy isn’t even subtle about her malevolent intentions. I might be more inclined to buy into the premise if she actually came across as a nice, well-meaning practitioner of magical arts. She doesn’t, though. Sissy shows off her freakish-mask wearing acolytes, her fondness of creepy crawlies and babbles on about the darkness. This is not a person with honourable intentions.
And so it goes on. Cherry Tree barrels along with the speed of a Maserati and the subtlety of a streamroller. Faith keeps to her end of the deal. Sissy keeps to hers. Everyone’s happy, until Sissy decides she’s not been acting like enough of a darkness-obsessed weirdo and ups the creepy-factor. She even sleeps with Faith’s dad – because that won’t piss off the girl you need onside for your fiendish schemes – presumably because the filmmakers figured it couldn’t hurt to show off Anna Walton’s boobs.
Cherry Tree plays out just as you’d expect. There’s no mystery like Rosemary’s Baby, there’s no surprises like Suspiria. Everything becomes a case of “Yep, saw that coming”. I think there’s one semi-effective jump-scare throughout the entire film. No tension or suspense is built-up, because the filmmakers even announced Sissy’s goal in the first slide of the film! Mystery, people!
What we’re left with is a film that takes a very simple route from Point A to Point B. Cherry Tree is so briskly paced that some things become confusing, and this is not a particularly intelligent film. I’m all for suspension of disbelief, but with Cherry Tree I’m expected to shatter my disbelief into a thousand pieces and accept the nonsense that rises from the mess. Furthermore, I know that Anna Walton can act. I know that Naomi Battrick can act. I’ve seen them both in other things. Yet Cherry Tree is one of those examples of such shoddy dialogue that the performers cannot deliver it in a realistic manner.
Honestly, I’d give this one a miss. Cherry Tree lacks logic, coherence, pacing and nearly-everything that makes effective supernatural/occult horror.