Sela Shiloni

Rosa Salazar and Catherine Keener in Brand New Cherry Flavor

Sergei Bachlakov/Netflix
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November 09, 2021
In The Mix

When Success Is Dark But Sweet

With Cherry Flavor, Nick Antosca keeps the horror hits coming.

Curt Schleier

Nick Antosca understood that Brand New Cherry Flavor, now streaming on Netflix, "was a hard sell." But then, he notes, "All my shows have been long shots."

His dark successes include the eight-episode Hulu true-crime drama, The Act, based on the life of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her murdered mom, Dee Dee, who was accused of abusing her. He also cowrote and executive- produced this year's Antlers, a supernatural feature about a teacher in a small Oregon town. But Antosca is best known for creating Channel Zero, an acclaimed horror anthology that ran for four seasons on Syfy (2016-18).

Brand New Cherry Flavor fits squarely in his oeuvre. Its eight episodes tell the tale of an aspiring filmmaker (Rosa Salazar), who exacts gruesome revenge on a corrupt producer (Eric Lange) by placing a curse on him with the help of a voodoo princess (Catherine Keener).

Antosca read the source material — Todd Grimson's 1996 novel of the same name — about a decade ago and loved "the tone, the voice, the fact that it was unclassifiable. I loved the main character and that it was sometimes hard to tell whether she was a villain or heroine."

He showed the book to Lenore Zion, who'd worked on the fourth season of Channel Zero, and she also liked the book's "unique and hypnotic tone," he says. They decided to develop the series, though they "were never sure it would sell."

That Antosca would find success in horror wasn't preordained — but there were clues. Growing up in New Orleans, he was constantly exposed to ghost stories. "Also, New Orleans was the murder capital of the country. And my parents would warn me about people getting murdered. So I grew up with a lot of horror in my consciousness."

Consider the drawings Antosca recently found in his parents' attic: sketches he'd done as a child of "pirates eating each other and hacking each other up, and there [are] also dinosaurs in them. These are stories in drawings. I was drawing them and dictating to my parents what to write." His parents were a little worried, he says, but, "They were very supportive when they realized I was going to be a writer."

That path, however, wasn't direct. After college, he worked as an assistant at a New York financial firm, writing at night and on weekends. When Antosca lost his job in the 2008 financial crisis, he and his writing partner, the late Ned Vizzini, moved to Los Angeles, where they eventually landed work on MTV's Teen Wolf in 2012.

Antosca says it wasn't till 2015, when he got his first staff job as a solo writer on Hannibal, that showrunners Bryan Fuller and Steve Lightfoot taught him "how to get strange things on screen."

What else will he find in that attic?

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 9, 2021

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