Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

‘Cherry Crush’ is certainly a film that aspired for much than it received with a measly DTV release, which actually works in my favor. With its high production values, slick presentation and noir-ish style, this is a film, directed by one Nicholas DiBella, that seemed to have its sights squarely set on the big screen, at the very least in the art-house community if not the multi-plex, and not the graveyard of Direct-to-Video. But alas this is where it has landed. But is this where ‘Cherry Crush’ belongs? Let us find out.

Jonathan Tucker is blue blood high school student Jordan Wells. Yes, Mister Tucker looks too old be a high school senior to me too, but we’ll go ahead and suspend that belief. An aspiring photographer, Jordan gets kicked out of his high brow prep school for taking ‘tasteful’ nudes of girls, most of whom are suspected to be underage, and posting the pictures on his website. Now Jordan has landed at the local public school, ewwww, but seems to fit in okay with these lower class kids. Jordan now uses his photog skills at the new school for good, working for the school yearbook and newspaper. This is where Jordan meets our fatal female, the sultry Shay Bettencourt (Nikki Reed).

Jordan doesn’t know why, but this girl from the ‘other side of the tracks’ pretty much owns his soul and is using her skills of persuasion to convinces Jordan to snap pictures of her and wealthy Wade Chandling (Frank Whaley) who she is having an affair with. Wade has promised to get Shay, a gifted Cellist, into an exclusive music school as long as she keeps that  cookie coming and Shay is just using the pics as insurance. Okay… Well Shay doesn’t get into the school forcing her hand to use the pictures against Wade, despite Jordan’s protestations, leading to the pair doing something real bad to

‘ol Wade. Investigating Detective Griffin (Michael O’Keefe) knowing Jordan from his previous photography experience has received an amazing wealth of information in the mail implicating young Jordan in the Chandling case, and he also informs Jordan that little Nikki isn’t all that she seems. Now poor Jordan is in a corner with very few options and no one to trust and nowhere to run.

There’s one huge plot hole in ‘Cherry Crush’ that I can’t get past, and it may not even be a plot hole but just something I missed, but I’ll get to that at the end. The first forty five or so of this film really dragged as the character of Jordan narrated over the film describing his life, which wasn’t all that interesting, and the lives of those surrounding him, whose lives weren’t all that interesting or compelling either. Even when the fatal Shay shows up things don’t get that much better because bless her pretty heart, Nikki Reed just isn’t much of a femme fatale. Reed doesn’t bring enough ‘history’ or ‘character’ to the persona of Shay Bettencourt making it difficult to get past the fact that she’s anything other than a whiny high school senior. Things do get MUCH better when Frank Whaley shows up on the scene and delivers to Jordan his one rule of life: ‘Don’t let anybody fuck with your money or your pussy’, which I think I may have to induct into my lifestyle lexicon. Whaley, who has made his career playing sleazy characters, finally spurs this film into action and turns ‘Cherry Crush’ into something worth watching. This turn in the plot also takes a lot of the focus away from the characters of Jason and Shay and brings in the far more interesting character of Detective Griffin and elevates the character of Desiree Thomas, as played by Julie Gonzalo, who goes from being just a friend of Jordan in the beginning of the film, and basically just as uninteresting as all of the other characters, and transforms her into a much more interesting person and a far more critical element of the film. This change gives the actress much more to work with and she proves more than able to handle the increased responsibility and adds much needed depth and complexity to a relatively poorly written character.

As noted earlier, ‘Cherry Crush’ is a very pretty film to look at, one that is well shot with high production values and a decent narrative, but despite the improvement in its second act, it seems that DiBella ran out of steam in the films third act as there was more confusion than conclusion and a lot of plot devices were slid in, not because they made sense, but because this thing had to be brought to a close. SPOILERS: My main question is, since the cop was obviously getting outside information in an effort to frame Jordan, who was doing the framing? You would think it was Shay, but Shay was going out of her way to save Jordan’s ass, so who was sending the cops the pictures and leaving the anonymous tips? Then I thought maybe it was friend Desiree, but she too went out of her way to save Jordan’s incredibly stupid ass.

‘Cherry Crush’ is a mixed bag and despite its high gloss look, perhaps it is best that First Look decided to send it on to DTV. Be on the lookout for a review on my TV show in the next couple weeks, ‘Totally Twisted Flix’! That folks is what we call a ‘Shameless Plug’ in the business.

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