Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Pick Up This Cherry Bomb for Thrills: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: a DVD screener of this film was provided by director Kyle Day.

Director: Kyle Day.

Writer: Garrett Hargrove.

Cast: Julin, Nick Manning, Denise Williamson, John Gabriel Rodriguez, and Allen Hackley.

Tagline: "Don't light her fuse."

Cherry Bomb joins a long list of rape revenge thrillers. From The Last House on the Left to I Spit on Your Grave, from Baise Moi to Irreversible, there have been dozens of entries in this genre. Director Kyle Day's first entry into this prolific category is stylized and reminiscent of John Carpenter's visual and auditory style such as Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). Day's directing style is more over-the-top compared to Carpenter; this is also an exploitation film after all. In the end, Cherry Bomb is an enjoyable ride with gunfire and violence overruling the nudity and sexuality.

The story of the film focuses on the "Pussy Hut." This is a strip club where Cherry, played by Julin (Spirit Camp), dances to the enjoyment of the club's clientele. Some of these clients are involved in a drug producing and distribution scheme and they like to blow off steam by taking advantage of Cherry, late one night. A group of four sexually assault her with a fifth man admitting his guilt late in the picture. Another man is complicit in the violence. The next hour or so is devoted to Cherry and her brother, Brandon (John Gabriel Rodriguez), bringing all of these men to justice. This is vigilante justice where whimpering for your life only brings more damage from a nail gun, an uzi, or a vehicle's grill.

This is a rape revenge thriller where events take place outside of the formal justice institutions and where believability of a film can be questioned. There is something odd here as noted on Planet Fury: "in a B movie where the main character is a stripper, it feels false to never see her actually strip." The protagonist is on stage for two minutes; yet, none of the character's clothes come off. Strange, no? During the rape scene, the violence and gross sexuality is alluded to. Only bruises on Cherry's face in the hospital the next day signal that anything has happened. This reviewer is not seeking a scene reminiscent of Irreversible's (2002) brutal tunnel scene. But, something seems missing here. That emotion that propels Cherry to seek justice also seems missing as Cherry jokes around, smiles and seems happy only days later after her assault. This element also seemed strange to this viewer.

And Kyle Day with writer Garrett Hargrove seemed to be choosing violence over sexuality. This is a pattern common with North American films; the opposite is true for European films, where sexuality is preferred over violence. So, the gore is here, but the sexuality that is inherent in strip clubs and their seedy back rooms is missing.

Fans will have to find some excitement in all of the violence, instead. And there is a lot of gore here to view. From eye-gougings to hit-and-run victims, viewers get to see all of the blood effects, which are enhanced by the make-up department to believable effect. The music is original and the soundtrack booms low in tense scenes and amps up during chase scenes. The acting is above average and Hargrove's story keeps events ever moving forward. There is an action film in the heart of Cherry Bomb, as well.

Cherry Bomb will release on Blu-Ray July 10th through Well Go USA and this reviewer would encourage indie film fans to seek this title out. Despite the filmmakers sterile approach to sexuality, this film thrills with a late character reveal offering an excellent showdown. The many violent action scenes are filmed with some competency and Cherry Bomb feels like a fun romp through strip clubs, coke labs, and other gritty settings. There just could have been a little more strip and a little more emotion delivered from actress Julin to bring the film to a more sexual place, which is the driving force for much of the film's action.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10 (liked this one, good pacing, solid acting, original soundtrack, good film stock, some lack of believability, a throwback to an'80s style of filmmaking).

This film review was influenced by another, found here:

Cherry Bomb Reviewed at Planet Fury

The film's fan page can be found here:

Cherry Bomb on Facebook

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