Clearly aiming for emotive and scary, but instead coming across as cheesy and camp, Cherry Tree proves a disappointing watch.

A modern-day tale of witchcraft and demonic spawn, David Keating’s flick certainly has plenty of interesting ideas – it just falls flat on its arse when it tries to convey them on screen.

The film focuses on Faith (Naomi Battrick), a 15-year-old schoolgirl having a hard time of it.

Not only is she ribbed at school for still being a virgin, but her chef father is also seriously ill with leukaemia.

Things get even worse when daddy (Sam Hazeldine) is given mere weeks to live, news which sends Faith spiralling into the hands of new hockey coach Sissy (a manic Anna Walton).

Turns out Sissy is part of a coven of witches in Orchard, a coven that has seemingly been in existence in some shape or form for centuries, using the town’s mysterious Cherry Tree as a base.

Sissy seems to have some pretty serious power, and offers Faith the chance to have her father cured – if she agrees to get herself up the duff with what may be the devil’s child…

If that all sounds a bit silly, then sadly that’s because Cherry Tree really is – laughably so at times.

A lot of that is down to Walton’s scenery-chewing turn as witch Sissy, which descends to a pantomime-level at times (nothing against pantomime performers, but boy do they have to overact).

But some of it also has to be laid at the feet of director Keating, who rolls out jump scares, soundtrack jars, a birth sequence complete with thunder and lightning and plenty of icky moments that are just unnecessary.

This may just be me, but I also found a topless group hockey team shower scene early on a bit much, especially when the film had already made it clear these were 15-year-olds we were dealing with.

On the acting side, Battrick struggles manfully with the material she is given, while Hazeldine and Battrick made a believable father-daughter combo.

But Walton’s over-the-top histrionics, along with Keating’s decision to have her pop up out of nowhere on a regular basis (naturally with a soundtrack crash) washes away any of that good work.

And if the film was already sliding towards merely keeping the least-demanding genre fans vaguely satisfied, don’t even get me started on Cherry Tree’s closing image, which proves a real kick in the nuts.

Keating certainly has talent – his Hammer outing Wake Wood back in 2010 was a solid watch – but Cherry Tree merely proves instantly forgettable.

 

DVD Review: Cherry Tree
2.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.