British Satanists Run Amok in Uneven Fright Flick ‘Cherry Tree’


England’s pressing problem with tree-worshipping Satanic witches is dramatized with suitable absurdity by Cherry Tree, in which a coven beholden to Beelzebub convinces a young girl to join its clan.

In exchange for a cure for her leukemia-stricken father (Sam Hazeldine), teenage virgin Faith (Naomi Battrick) agrees to birth a baby for Sissy (Anna Walton) and her underworld friends. These villains run around London with scarecrow-ish burlap bags over their heads and practice their ceremonies amid the subterranean roots of Satan’s cherry tree, which rewards them with power in the form of magic fruit that they smear over their lips and centipedes that have the ability to resurrect the dead.

From Faith not realizing that Faustian bargains always go to hell to a gory finale involving ritualistic infanticide and copious exposition, this ungainly B movie makes virtually no sense in terms of either mythology or basic plotting. Characters stand around when they should be taking action, or run around when they should be hiding, just as director David Keating employs innumerable cockeyed angles when some straightforward medium shots would suffice.

The result is a clumsy, tossed-off U.K. variation of the 1988 Demi Moore vehicle The Seventh Sign, complete with a spooky last shot whose lameness is nothing short of unholy.

Cherry Tree

Directed by David Keating

Dark Sky Films

Opens January 8, Cinema Village

Available on demand