Review: Treevenge (2008)

Directed by: Jason Eisener | 16 minutes | horror, comedy, short film | Actors: Mike Cleven, Sarah Dunsworth, Zoë Dunsworth, Lex Gigeroff, Glen Matthews, Alexander Rosborough, Kristin Slaney, Jonathan Torrens

This short ‘Treevenge’ by director Jason Eisener begins calmly and peacefully with images of forests with numerous pine trees, with an appropriate atmospheric and soothing music to accompany. It seems nothing that can disturb the peace. But that quickly changes when a group of lumberjacks with axes and chainsaws arrive to collect Christmas trees for the coming Christmas period. And the trees are being tackled hard. They are cut down, beaten, kicked, some are set on fire, they are taken away from their relatives, put on a hitching and shocking truck to be put up for sale like a piece of cattle. And when they are rigged they have to undergo all kinds of humiliating and unwanted intimacies. With little hope of being burned at the stake after Christmas.

It is a torture that we have witnessed extensively. We hear the cries of pain emanating from the trees and share their desperation and concern for their families when they talk to each other in their tree language. And asking questions about what all this is needed for. Because they are unfamiliar with the Christmas spirit. And if they were, it is not surprising that, given the fate that awaits them, the thought of Christmas would not exactly please them. On the contrary, the trees have had enough and, in accordance with the telling title of this ‘Treevenge’, decide to take revenge for what has been done to them all. From one second to the next, with only a telltale and ominous light growl from one of them as an omen, the Christmas trees strike. And they take their human victims in an unimaginable way. The advantage here is that they are suddenly extremely mobile and yes, it is also useful if you have so many branches that you can all use as an arm. And as a target such a branch with all sharp pine needles is no fun at all. Something their victims quickly find out when the trees go wild. Adults, children, babies, domestic cats… without regard to people or animals, the trees mercilessly kill their victims. In the most gory ways that is, and it is therefore also nice special effects that come along. Eyes popping out, stuck in body openings and branches reappearing elsewhere, a tree that takes up an ax itself with chopping intentions, heads that are crushed to pieces….

Despite this, it doesn’t get scary anywhere. The whole structure of the story and the developments cannot be taken seriously for a second. Starting with the behavior that the lumberjacks show from the beginning. This can perhaps be regarded as a tribute to or a satire of the slasher genre when they, as lusty madmen, fight the trees triumphantly and screaming and screaming. Completely unbelievable in all the maniacal traits they show, but that makes it all the funnier. This also immediately makes the satirical-humorous approach of this ‘Treevenge’ clear. And why the trees’ revenge in terms of horror don’t have any chilling effect whatsoever. Successful and fun special effects and undoubtedly evoking the necessary shudder in serious slasher films, but here by all the exaggeration also to a considerable degree arouse the lust for laughter. Nice acting of the Christmas trees. Convincing, identifying and evoking compassion in all desperation and frustration and in all understandable and equally convincing lust for revenge that breaks through afterwards. Nice work by the human actors too, although their film characters will not evoke much sympathy – not that it matters much by the way – because of the way they deal with the trees. However, not everyone, just like the apparently mentally disturbed lumberjacks, always comes across as credible. This was also exactly the intention of the makers. All credit for the way they are portrayed. Likewise with the beating that the screaming villagers undergo and the fear and panic that radiates from them.

For those who are open to such a nonsensical humor-horror-oriented film, director Eisener succeeds very well. ‘Treevenge’ makes it clear that the patience of Christmas trees will also come to an end and it may be advisable to consider a more tree-loving treatment. Because the closing images show that sometimes gloomy Christmas times can come when the vengeance of the trees has by far not worn off …

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