Entering the Discourse is a thrice-weekly column where we dig into who is saying what about new releases and upcoming projects. Today, we hear from the creators of Brand New Cherry Flavor about their trippy new Netflix series and how to make someone puke up a cat.
Brand New Cherry Flavor is a hallucinogenic, nightmarish rollercoaster ride. The Netflix series, based on the novel of the same name by Todd Grimson, follows the story of up-and-coming filmmaker Lisa Nova (Rosa Salazar). She moves to LA to work on her dream project but is betrayed by her producer (Eric Lange). She then spirals into the world of the supernatural and meets a witch named Boro (Catherine Keener) who can help her get revenge.
If that sounds chaotic, then that is exactly what co-creators Nick Antosca and Lenore Zion wanted. In an interview with Slashfilm, Zion talks about the emotions they wanted to elicit with their latest project. She says:
“I want the audience to be entertained and going, ’What the f**k just happened? What’s going to happen next?’ I just want them to have fun.”
But it wasn’t just about fun. It was about creating something that felt eerily similar to a nightmare. In the same interview Antosca explains:
“We talked about how much we enjoyed shows and films that have the rhythm of a nightmare, so it feels real and unreal at the same time. We tried to capture that nightmare energy and keep viewers off-base and hypnotized”
And they hit their mark. Brand New Cherry Flavor twists and turns in complicated ways that keep us on our toes. We are never sure what strange character we’ll meet next.
Throwing Up Kittens
But perhaps the most nightmarish aspect of Brand New Cherry Flavor is its use of newborn kittens. Lisa vomits them up as payment for Boro putting a curse on the producer that betrayed her.
That wasn’t from the book but something cooked up by Zion and Antosca. In fact, it was born out of Zion’s own emetophobia, or fear of throwing up. Yet, despite her fear, adding kittens into the mix made the act more bearable. She tells Slashfilm:
“I really like kittens, so kittens are usually on my mind. At that moment, for some reason, I thought it’d be a good idea for Lisa to puke them up. It certainly fits something inside of me that’s burning to get out.”
To accomplish that, the Brand New Cherry Flavor creators staunchly relied on practical effects, despite being advised to just use CGI. In an interview with Vulture, Antosca reveals:
“Everybody kept trying to convince us, ‘Oh, it’s going to be easier to do this or do that.’ We’re like, ‘No, we’re going to be practical.’”
So they worked with puppeteers to create life-like newborn kittens that “actually looked alive with personality and unique little quirks,” Zion adds.
When it came to the vomit, Salazar rose to the occasion by willingly stuffing those puppets, plus a lot of KY Jelly, into her mouth and “throwing them up” over and over again. Zion points out:
“Salazar tried to vomit differently each time so she could evoke distinct emotions and tell a different story. She didn’t complain and was ready and willing for every take we needed. She was a total pro. To the extent that anyone can be a pro about vomiting up kittens.”
Rosa Salazar on the “Brilliance” of Brand New Cherry Flavor
For Rosa Salazar, the kitten-vomiting was all worth it to be a part of Brand New Cherry Flavor. In an interview with Collider, the actress says:
“I think that we live in an age where there’s just so much content. There are so many things to binge and we’ve gotten really used to just throwing something on and then scrolling through our phone. And when I read these brilliant scripts by Nick Antosca and Lenore Zion, these minds, I just said, ‘This is something that you cannot and you will not – whether you vibe with it or not, and whether it’s your cup of kitten blood or not – scroll through your phone on it.’ The audience will be captive no matter what, and that was important to me.”
More than that, Salazar wanted to play a flawed character like Lisa, a woman who makes mistakes and is a bit of a mess. She says:
“I liked the character. I liked the fact that she is fallible. I like the fact that she is dynamic, in this other way. It’s not just a strong woman. She makes big mistakes, and I wanted to see that.”
It’s definitely a show that will not only grab the viewer’s attention but loudly demand it as it drags them on a trip through Hell.
Brand New Cherry Flavor is now streaming on Netflix.