Hollywood, sometime in the ‘90s: emerging filmmaker Lisa N. Nova (Rosa Salazar of Alita: Battle Angel) finds Hollywood a tougher town than she ever anticipated when she’s ripped off and shut out of her first feature by ageing auteur Lou Burke (Eric Lange). What’s she to do but consult a mysterious downtown witch, Boro (Catherine Keener), about extracting a pound of flesh through supernatural means?
It takes a while to get there, though, and for its first episode Brand New Cherry Flavour comes across as a particularly deadpan and self-impressed film industry melodrama, all about the dirty deals and predatory people hidden in the Hollywood underbrush. It takes Salazar vomiting up a live kitten—something her character does regularly for the rest of the show’s eight episode run—for us to understand that we’re charting stranger territory. Magic has a cost, art has a cost, and success has a cost—Lisa must pay all three.
Based on the novel by Todd Grimson, Brand New Cherry Flavour comes to us from creators Nick Antosca and Lenore Zion, who gave us the excellent (but little loved in Australia) horror anthology series Channel Zero. Like that show, this latest offering draws, tonally at least, from internet urban legend—the copypasta culture that gave us modern mythic icons like the Slenderman. While it may be set before the ubiquity of the web, it still plays with the idea of individuals being caught up in the inexplicable, of second-hand horror stories that happened to a guy a guy I know knows. It’s a post-modern campfire ghost story.