Freshman Fall (1996)

Freshman Fall (1996)

No One Would Believe Her

Candace Cameron Bure in Freshman Fall (1996) (aka: She Cried No)

Melissa Connell (Candace Cameron Bure) has just started College and immediately comes to the attention of Scott Baker (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) one of the most popular guys on campus. But Scott has a nasty secret as he has a habit of seducing girls, getting them drunk at house parties and then raping them when they are unconscious. When he does this to Melissa her life starts to spiral out of control, her grades suffer and she freaks out whenever she sees Scott until finally she tells her mum. But whilst Melissa and her mum look to get justice they find it tough as not only is there a lack of proof but attitudes towards Melissa make her feel she is the one in the wrong.

I have unfortunately watched quite a few movies about rape and when I read the plot for "Freshman Fall", which is also known as "She Cried No", my hopes were not particularly high. Part of the trouble is that it sounded like a bit of college fiction where a student is forced to take extreme measures to get justice having been raped but also the casting seemed wrong. I don't mean the casting of Candace Cameron Bure as Melissa but Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Scott because Gosselaar of course at the time still had this good guy image from "Saved by the Bell". But I was pleasantly surprised as "Freshman Fall" despite still having an element of fiction about it also has depth when it comes to the attitudes it shows.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar in Freshman Fall (1996) (aka: She Cried No)

Splitting "Freshman Fall" into two there is the okay and the surprisingly good. The okay is the storyline as elements of it are believable from the college party scene to what can happen. But it has some sensational aspects from Scott turning nasty when Melissa seeks justice to the evolution of a subplot surrounding dorm mate Jordan. These elements are not bad and in truth make "Freshman Fall" entertaining but at the same time they make it feel like fiction rather than fact.

But then there is the depth as "Freshman Fall" does an interesting job in highlighting various attitudes following Melissa breaking down and telling her mum. We see how initially her brother doesn't believe her, we see how a female friend thinks she is bringing them a bad name and we even see her father more concerned with the stigma of being a rape victim. There is a lot more and it is the awareness of attitudes, from the obvious "she was drunk and wanted it" to more subtle elements about just getting on it does a good job of highlighting them.

As to how this all plays out well to be honest "Freshman Fall" is quite obvious. If you don't spot who will be critical to Melissa in trying to get justice then lucky you as it is less than subtle very early on.

As for the acting well the performances are solid; Candace Cameron Bure and Jenna von O are believable as two young women dealing with rape in their own ways. And then there is Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Scott and whilst I had fears over his casting he brings a lot of slickness to the role which makes him unnervingly good.

What this all boils down to is that "Freshman Fall" is a movie with some surprising depth when it comes to the various attitudes surrounding rape. It is by no means a great movie but a lot better than you might expect from a made for TV movie from the mid 90's.

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