My Cherry Pie (2021)

Rating: C

Dir: Addison Heath and Jasmine Jakupi
Star: Sotiris Tzelios, Glenn Maynard, Trudi Ranik, Dylan Heath

This feels like two separate, quite different Australian movies. One is a gritty, urban crime movie; the other is a rural slasher, set around an abandoned hospital (top). It’s certainly a novel combination: I’m not sure it works, yet there are elements in each I quite admire. Going by the fashions (and a selection of spectacular facial hair), I’m guessing this takes place in some long bygone time, like the seventies. It begins with Freddy (Tzelios) getting out of jail after a 3½-year stretch, to be met by low-life colleagues Jack (Heath) and Green. It’s not long before they have to make a quick exit from the big city, after a robbery of another set of thugs turns lethal.

Meanwhile, in the countryside, a masked figure is killing anyone in their path. This seems to be tied to religious zealot Edwin Crow (Maynard).  He lives in the disused facility mentioned above, with his niece, the meek and mild-mannered Cherry (Ranik). When the criminals’ car breaks down on a rural road, it’s Edwin who finds them, and takes them back to the hospital for dinner and a place to bunk for the night. There then follows the most awkward meal ever, with the rough-edged city thugs an ill match for Edwin and Cherry. If you guess this is going to lead to… an interpretive dance performance by Cherry, give yourself two hard-earned points. Because I definitely did not see that coming.

This is, however, only a prelude to what we have been expecting. We discover the identity of the masked killer, along with their history, and inevitably, a few more demerits being placed on their permanent record. Most of the effects required are nicely practical, though not without fault, e.g. a slit throat which results in a torrent of blood, and no visible mark on the victim. It’s the pacing which is a bigger problem, with the film stopping dead for that historical info dump, when it should be accelerating to top speed. The lighting seems to have strayed in from a giallo, frequently being primary colour filters. It’s quite pretty, yet seems somewhat out of place in a film more inclined to being down and dirty.

There’s certainly an Aussie earthiness to the dialogue, especially among the trio of criminals. I’m quite used to Commonwealth accents, and still, at times all I could make out was the swear words. It didn’t matter much though: this isn’t a film which requires a lot of explanation. Indeed, as mentioned, there might be a bit more than necessary. Tzelios and Manik are likely best among the actors. The former manages to be a tough guy with surprising vulnerability, while the latter has an unsettling air of something wrong about her. If it never gels into a complete, delicious meal, enough of the ingredients are tasty enough to make this slice of pie a passable snack.

The film was released on Blu-ray (Region FREE) on 30th May 2023 from VIPCO & BayView Entertainment.