Brand New Cherry Flavor Presents a Mixed Up World of Body Horror and the Supernatural Wrapped in the Decadence of 1990’s Hollywood
Netflix seems to be finding a special niche with the short-run mini-series format, especially those based on existing literature. For Netflix, this is a great business plan that works on many levels. First, there is limited commitment — no one is commiteted to a long-term series unless the show really takes off and demands a follow up. Second, there is already a built in audience for the material.
Enter Brand New Cherry Flavor. The original 1997 novel of the same name was written by Todd Grimson. The novel itself has fallen rather into obscurity, having gained only 25 reviews on Amazon at the time of this review.
Being that the novel was written in the 90s, the show creators seem compelled to keep the timeline in the same decade for no other reason. There is no sense of 90’s nostalgia and no real demand other than being able to say it’s a period piece in the 90’s.
Decade be damned, Brand New Cherry Flavor, is entertaining and succeeds on many levels.
At the most basic level, this is the story of Lisa Nova, played effectively by Rosa Salazar). Nova is a rising filmmaker who seems to be willing to break all the rules to climb the rungs of success. However, when those rules are broken by befriending producer Lou Burke (Eric Lange), the table turns and Nova vows revenge.
She seeks the aid of heart throb movie star Roy Hardaway (Jeff Ward) and the mysterious Boro (Catherine Keener).
The story dives into a supernatural journey that feels like a David Cronenberg tale of body horror when Cherry Flavor is at its best.
While the producer Burke, is not a redeemable character, the story leaves open for judgment whether or not his suffering is equal to the crime.
Also open for interpretation, is Lisa Nova herself. While she is the protagonist of the tale, an argument could be made that she is amongst the worst people in the story.
The ending is satisfying but leaves the door open for a sequel or a continuation of sorts to resolve and answer these questions if viewership demands it.
Gordon’s Grade: B+