‘Brand New Cherry Flavor’ is an eight-part original limited horror series which premiered on Netflix on August 13. This series is created by Nick Antosca and Lenore Zion based on a novel of the same name by Todd Grimson. It stars Rosa Salazar, Catherine Keener, Manny Jacinto, Eric Lange, and Jeff Ward.
This flick is definitely not for everyone especially those who have weak stomachs, have zero to low tolerance for macabre situations or those with sensitive mental perceptions when it comes to issues surrounding gender violence against women. To be honest even avid fans who devour gory circumstances with great delight will certainly find themselves squirming through some really spooky scenes. It is an ultimate nightmare that pushes one to the limit making the series an ultimate magnet. To describe how absurd and terrifying this show is, it’s like taking all the original horror series from Netflix such as ‘The Love Witch,’ ‘Velvet Buzzsaw,’ ‘Eraserhead’ and ‘Mandy,’ mashing them up to bring forth a terrifying slimy kitten so if this sounds like a meal for you, then do buckle up.
‘Brand New Cherry Flavor’ definitely seems to exist in a universe of its own and takes place in Los Angeles during the early 90s. An aspiring filmmaker, named Lisa Nova played by the captivating Rosa Salazar is an immensely talented young lady who is laser focused on making her directorial debut in Hollywood. So, she packs up and heads to the Hollywood dream factory armed with her first title ‘Lucy’s Eye.’ While in the City of Angels, Lisa meets with acclaimed producer Lou Burke played by Eric Lange who promises the success hungry youngster heaven on earth. Unfortunately, things go south pretty fast, and Lisa’s dreams turn into a traumatizing nightmare that escalates at supersonic speed leading to a trip down a horrific rabbit hole filled with revenge, psychedelia and witchcraft.
‘Brand New Cherry Flavor’ for starters can be viewed as just a hyper stylistic mash up of various genres with a clichéd storyline. Come to think about it, a talented young female in Hollywood left at the mercy of a sexual predator Weinstein kind of a producer. However, nothing is as it seems in this show which keeps the artificially fruity taste of its title fresh before well, it decays all your teeth of your jaws.
The characters are expertly crafted each in its own right. Take Lisa for instance, an inexperienced yet mature strong lead female, who also happens to be Brazilian and is determined to sacrifice anything for a piece of the juicy cake. These aspects lead to the assumption that she will be typecast as the conventional victim of the story, however, she’s neither the hero nor villain. She’s grayer as can get, more complex in ways that she refuses to fit in whatever stereotype box the audience tries to force her into.
This show isn’t really a feminist one per se however there is no denying that it’s enriched with issues about power and gender hence there is a lot of appeal for the diehard feminists out there.
When we look at Boro a super shady card reading witch who is obsessed with crystals a role that Catherine Keener executes with great poise, we come to understand that her domination over Hollywood’s elite is as unquestionable as it is unfathomable. There has been exposure in LA touching on this subject strengthening the old saying that where there is smoke there is definitely fire. So just like Lisa, one really wants to believe that this dark fairy like godmother is the key to her regaining everything she has lost and exert revenge on those who have wronged her.
This series reveals to a great extend the flawed logic of giving female bosses more power over the same exploitative showbiz systems especially when it comes to the argument regarding male versus female psychology. ‘Brand New Cherry Flavor’ features recurring art with eyeballs and voyeuristic filmmaking as shown by an image of Lisa with a bloody eyeball in her mouth in the cover artwork for the series and expertly continues to praise moviemakers that strive to switch from the chauvinistic male gaze for a more feminine version.
Though ‘Brand New Cherry Flavor’ is definitely meant for entertainment purposes, it challenges the audiences to look beyond issues grappling with showbiz, in this case, gender inequality in Hollywood and instead put the microscope on the bigger picture which is curbing a culture obsessed with mythologizing expert film auteurs. It really beats sense when a presumably notable individual in society discriminates, abuses, or mistreats another person regardless of their gender with the aim of fulfilling their own genius artistic visions.
To achieve this goal, the show shines a light on the hidden side of the culturally influenced city bringing to the open what it really means to be a powerful force in such a powerful setup. It avoids any prejudices by broadening the story to tackle more general and universal social issues surrounding power and the desire to claim and impose it on others in less fortunate situations.
To set itself from other shows in Tinseltown which put the spotlight on the issues that take place in showbiz, ‘Brand New Cherry Flavor’ only uses moviemaking and Hollywood as familiar apparatus that audiences across the globe recognize. However, its actual aim is the desire to explore the deeper issues surrounding generational trauma, victimization, vicious cycles of betrayal, the caustic aspect of using grief as creative catharsis and the use of art as a form of selfish destruction instead of being a compassionate creation.
Despite extensively handling its core purpose, this series runs short of one key thing. It’s unfortunate to see an almost all white or light skinned cast in this flick which is pretty much centered around the myths and spiritual beliefs of South Americans, African diaspora, and the indigenous cultures. Hence for a movie so preoccupied with the relationship between creativity and exploitation and sacrificing others for the sake of selfish artistic gratification, one would expect this show would do better in handling this. All in all, the series definitely proves its own point regarding the numerous deep rooted faults in filmmaking.