BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR (2021)
Brand New Cherry Flavor is a bizarre and disturbing 90s set series, now streaming on Netflix, that finds wannabe film director Lisa Nova (Rosa Salazar) heading out to Hollywood, hoping to score a deal to direct a feature version of her well-received short horror film. She gets just such a deal from producer Lou Burke (Eric Lange), who convinces her to sign over the rights to her movie before proving he’s just another sketchy, sleazy Hollywood producer. After rejecting his advances and getting her film project stolen away from her, Lisa turns to strange, black magic practicing, tattoo artist Boro (Catherine Keener) to get her revenge. Let’s just say vengeance has a price and Boro may not be any different than Burke when it comes to having her own plans for Miss Nova.
This is a fun, gory and delightfully weird show as created by Channel Zero’s Nick Antosca from a book by Todd Grimson. It’s eight episodes and fans will be happy to find out it only covers the first third of Grimson’s book, thus leaving room for a season or two more. It’s a neon colored nightmare, as Lisa encounters witches, zombies, hitmen and the vengeful star (Siena Weber) of her own short film, on top of a sleazy producer more concerned with her talents in bed than in filmmaking. There are some very disturbing sequences, some brutal violence, gore and a few spectral spooks as well. It doesn’t follow the traditional template of supernatural curse/revenge films and at times, has a bit of a David Lynchian vibe to it. What holds it together, and our interest, even in the slower moments, is a fantastic performance by Rosa Salazar as Lisa Nova. She’s cocky, strong-willed, sexy and resourceful, yet also can be vulnerable and is not always the good guy here. Salazar makes all the aspects of Lisa’s character work, gives her emotional depth and makes her a likable, in-over-her-own-head heroine, even when she is being selfish. Salazar also portrays her as a bit mysterious, as Lisa may have her own personal supernatural troubles, even before meeting Boro. The supporting cast is great, especially Lange as the sleazy Burke and a wonderfully eccentric Catherine Keener as witch/tattoo artist Boro. It’s not perfect. There are a few episodes that feel dragged out, and this part of the story probably could have been told in a more economic five or six episodes, but, it’s so delightfully weird and disturbing—where else can one see someone vomiting up live kittens—that we stick with it nonetheless. It’s also cool that with multiple writers and directors at work, all the episodes retain the same look, atmosphere and unsettling feel. Definitely looking forward to a season two if this is a success for Netflix.
Rosa Salazar as Lisa Nova, a young filmmaker who turns to black magic for revenge when her dreams are ruined by a sleazy producer.
1. “I Exist”—directed by Arkasha Stevenson; written by Lenore Zion & Nick Antosca
2. “Hair of the Dog”—directed by Gandja Monteiro; written by Mando Alvarado
3. “Roman Candle”—directed by Gandja Monteiro; written by Christina Ham
4. “Tadpole Smoothie”—directed by Matt Sobel; written by Nick Antosca, Haley Z. Boston & Alana B. Lytie
5. “Jennifer”—directed by Matt Sobel; written by Lenore Zion & Haley Z. Boston
6. “Milk Bath”—directed by Jake Schreier; written by Matt Fennell
7. “Egg”—directed by Jake Schreier; written by Mando Alvarado & Christina Ham
8. “Bodies”—directed by Nick Antosca; written by Lenore Zion & Nick Antosca
Can Lisa escape the nightmare she’s found herself in?