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Trippy and lurid 'Brand New Cherry Flavor' takes horror to a new level

Rosa Salazar as Lisa in ’Brand New Cherry Flavor’. Picture: Netflix

Rosa Salazar as Lisa in ’Brand New Cherry Flavor’. Picture: Netflix

Published Aug 21, 2021


I don't exactly recall why I ended up watching Netflix’s new horror drama “Brand New Cherry Flavor” this week.

Perhaps, I was intrigued by the title. Okay, I didn’t pay close attention to the synopsis as it was a flipping long day and my brain was begging for a timeout.

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At first, I thought it was in a similar vein to “UnREAL”, taking viewers into the inner sanctum of Hollywood’s showbiz industry.

To an extent, it does with some aspects, though, especially with the casting couch scenes.

The series, which is based on Todd Grimson’s novel of the same name, plays out as most aspiring Hollywood journeys do. Struggling artist - in this case, it’s a film director named Lisa N. Nova (Rosa Salazar) - makes her way to LA.

Lisa, fortunately, bagged an interview with well-known producer Lou Burke (Eric Lange). The only person she knows in town is her ex-beau Code (Manny Jacinto) and she crashes with him and his girlfriend.

Meanwhile, in the background, there’s a strange person following her on a motorcycle. She notices but doesn’t give it too much thought.

Her lunch meeting with Lou gets off to an awkward start. In trying to suss the other out, they eventually agree on Lisa directing the movie based on the video of her short film. He even gives her an advance in good faith after noticing her cash-strapped plight.

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Lisa is a headstrong person. She knows what she wants and refuses to budge. Her confidence blinds her to the art of kiss-ass in this cut-throat world.

While oblivious to the casting couch syndrome, she is quickly introduced to it when Lou starts getting handsy after she signs her contract.

When she refuses to become a #metoo statistic, Lou pulls rank and hires someone else as a director.

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This sends Lisa into a tailspin, more so when Lou explains how things work in Hollywood.

He tells her a promise is nothing more than an appetiser and the contract is the main meal. He advises her to master the art of apology as it is a skill she will require.

Rosa Salazar as Lisa Nova with Eric Lange as Lou Burke in a scene from the series. Picture: Netflix

Furious, she calls him washed up, he, after putting his hands on her, calls her a wannabe.

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Overcome with anger, Lisa turns to Boro (Catherin Keener) to put a curse on him. She wants Lou to pay for crossing her. But there is a price to pay and it entails her barfing up kittens regularly.

This is where the story crosses over into dark and bizarre territory. It kind of reminded me of “American Gods” in a way as the line blurs and the viewer is thrust into a mind-bending world.

In wanting her movie back and to set his life on fire, Lisa has to pay a heavy price.

And the deeper she immerses herself in this supernatural world, the more twisted things get.

“Brand New Cherry Flavor” is streaming on Netflix.

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