Netflix’s Brand New Cherry Flavour

It’s always neat when a major streaming service takes a devilish gamble on something completely deranged and ‘out there’ for their original shows, and Netflix’s Brand New Cherry Flavour is about as WTF as you can accessibly produce without going into full fledged David Lynch surreal arthouse realms. It’s based on a book by a dude called Todd Grimson who I’m not familiar with but the creator/show-runner is Nick Antosca who is responsible for my favourite horror tv show of all time Channel Zero (which can be seen on Shudder) so it’s safe to say his creative output here is also a unique, otherworldly game changer. This tells the story of Lisa Nova (Rosa Salazar, the Battle Angel in Alita), a film student who has brought her horror short to LA in hopes of signing a feature deal, which starts by garnering the interest of fast talking, knowledgeable, well connected producing guru Lou Burke (Eric Lange). Unfortunately, as is often the case with Hollywood bigwigs, Lou is a sociopathic, sleazy piece of shit who not only comes onto her and gets petty when she rejects his advances but then steals her short film for his own purposes and even assaults her. What to do? Well, you could sell your soul to a weird cat worshipping witch deity in exchange for revenge most foul. I wouldn’t recommend it but in this case Lisa is a bit naive and doesn’t heed the obvious warning bells when she’s approached by mysterious Boro (Catherine Keener), who promises her retribution in return for a vaguely Faustian bargain. Well after neglecting to read the fine print Lisa finds her life and that of everyone around her turn into a full on hellish supernatural nightmare complete with flesh eating zombies, inter dimensional hallucinations, angry phantasms, peyote induced mania, pissed off Latino mob hitmen, hiccups, extreme violence at every turn and a strange affliction where every so often she’ll dry heave and vomit up a newborn kitten, and I mean that in the lost literal, explicit way possible, she straight up chundies little tiny demonic white cats covered in barf and it’s nasty af. But that’s what you get when you tangle with a mischievous witch I suppose. Catherine Keener hasn’t had a role this great in years and she’s a diabolical wonder as Boro, the least trustworthy being you’ve ever met, full of quips, quotes and scathing verbal roasts with the bizarre black magic to back her talk up, it’s truly a wondrous villain performance that she has a lot of fun with. This isn’t necessarily the most… succinct or airtight vision and it’s sometimes feels like paint just hurled at a canvas there are so many elements at play, especially in the back half of the season. But oh, what elements they are. This is dark, fucked up, no-chill storytelling with some of the blackest humour imaginable, laughs that catch in your throat on the way up like a barfed kitten and some of the most acidic, punchy, sizzling writing I’ve ever heard, full of impossibly colourful language and brimming with delicious, often very niche Hollywood references. It’s messy but it’s a beautiful goddamn mess and has so much jaw dropping, unbelievable content that I was transported along for the ride that resembles something like Mulholland Dr tossed together with Cronenberg, Raimi’s Evil Dead films with a dash of Entourage and something even intangible thrown in for good bloody measure. Be careful with this one if you’re content sensitive because it’s… punishingly perverse, overbearingly intense and unforgivingly willing got plumb the dark, demented depths of the collective storytelling psyche and puke up whatever it finds onto the screen. Like a kitten, or a self removed eyeball, cannibalistic zombies, metre long tapeworms pulled slowly out of human eye sockets, those are all but a taste. Buckle up.

-Nate Hill

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