While dealing with all the problems that being a teenager entails, Faith also has to process the fact that her father is dying of cancer. One day her field hockey coach invites her to a secret dungeon, claiming that she can help her father survive. All Faith has to do is bear a child to give over to the coach when it is born. Something is not quite right with the child, and it's growing fast...
This new Irish film released by Njutafilms over here in Sweden is further proof that Ireland is catching up on the entire world when it comes to horror. Sure, I'd say that "Cherry Tree" isn't fantastic by any means, but that might come from me being a critical adult. This tale of witches seems to be more aimed at the teenage crowd, but definitely not in the same way as "Twilight". This does not romanticize witches or Satan. It doesn't evolve around a love story. It never replaces scream queens with drama queens. It's a horror movie and it's a rather serious one at that. Hell, it's quite adult in its themes of loss and sacrifice, but at times you can't hide the PSA-like plot about kids accepting candy from strangers. Unlike a movie like "Ginger Snaps", this movie never successfully blossoms as a metaphor or character heavy story that just happens to be about teenagers, but rather feels like it is for teenagers in the process.
I'm getting ahead of my review here. I should rewind a bit...
"Cherry Tree" is a story Faith, her dying father, and the sacrifice she makes to keep him alive. Faith goes to a school where she is seen as an outsider. She has good friends, but the majority of girls in school are far from friendly. When she finds out that her father's cancer has taken a turn for the worse and only has a few months to live, she's devastated. When her coach finds out about this, she comes to Faith with a proposal. She follows her coach down into a dungeon where it is revealed that the coach is part of a coven of witches. If Faith will bear a child for her coach, she can make her father survive. Of course, there will be some heavy complications that the coach forgot to mention. Is the child inside of her human?
The strongest parts of "Cherry Tree" come from having a solid lead character (and actress, obviously), some unique design ideas and that it doesn't fall into typical traps. The plot isn't bad at all, and the movie remains fairly interesting, but I can't deny that this feels like "The Craft" meets Clive Barker. There is a maturity in the movie over many other teenage horror movies, but I had a hard time getting into its characters. There's a few high school clichés that play a big part of the movie, and they shine through despite many efforts of bringing something new to the table. The dialogue seems uninspired and some characters are unintentionally annoying.
There's plenty to like about "Cherry Tree", but all in all it's a rather forgettable teenage horror. I'd recommend this to teenagers before stuff like "It Follows", but considering I wasn't a fan of that, it's not saying much. Check out "Cherry Tree" if you're intrigued, but odds are that it would be a better choice for a less seasoned, horror curious, teenager. Although if you have a centipede phobia, you might find this deeply disturbing! If anything, the movie does show that Ireland is putting out horror of relatively high quality right now (and have been for a while).