An indie film pays homage to “Jaws” with a humorous twist reminiscent of “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”.
“Trees: the Movie” circles around Hazelville, an enduring camping community that is brisk with activity during the busy Memorial Day weekend. A busty woman and her chasing lover prance out into the forests as they look for some place for intimate floundering. The woman wears out her pursuer and is attacked by an unseen assailant.
The next day, park ranger Mark Cody (Kevin McCauley) investigates the event that transpired the night before. His only conclusion is that it had to be a “tree-attack”. This kind of attack erupts into more blood-shed as Cody has to team-up with a crusading botanist (Phillip Gardiner) and a lumberjack (Paul Randazzo) to take down the menace in the Hazelville forest.
“Trees” brought me back to the hysteria that circled around the release of the cult-classic “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”. That indie film sparked a loyal dynamic following and if you look back on the film now you may still chuckle at how much lunacy actually transpired. The most memorable line from Tomatoes is when a human dressed as a tomato asks for “ketchup” on his burger. I still chuckle to myself at the crazy imagination that dreamed that one up.
In “Trees”, I begin to see the approach the renegade filmmakers went to as they put this piece together. It can be quite clever and can be very interesting.
The filmmakers so closely parody “Jaws” that they open the film with announcing how much “Jaws” influenced a generation. They also name their head character Cody which is a direct parody of Brody. A lot of the scenes are clearly parodies of “Jaws” from the bobbing barrels to the lead character being utterly scared of the film’s central menace. These plot revelations and mockery is brilliant
Another interesting aspect is that not for a moment do any of the characters actually stop and say, “Hey, trees can’t eat people.” Using a chainsaw to open a tree to see if there is chunks of people inside made me burst out laughing and that scene was my favorite. Especially when the first thing excavated from the tree is a film canister labeled the “The Blair Witch Project”. That for me was this film’s “ketchup” moment.
The actors playing the Cody and the botanist are my favorite as their over-acting blends nicely into the small budget film. Some of the other actors in the film really didn’t blend well and that was a little annoying. I liked the actress who is the first victim and it was to bad to see her perish so soon. But her scene was definitely in the top 2 best scenes in the piece.
But aside from the evident parody and the blending actors, the film brings you down when the parody wears out its welcome. It’s like watching one of those Saturday Night Live skits as a film. (Oh, yeah those have made a fortune. Haven’t they?)
I suggest to the filmmakers that they try to sell this film to Canada’s “Comedy Network” or the US’s “Comedy Central”. There it would have an excellent chance of developing a cult following like “Tomatoes”. If you love pure lunacy and fondly remember “Jaws”, check this film out.
2.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer.
Final Note: With the sequel Trees 2: Root of Evil, the franchise could actually get more interesting with age as these renegade filmmakers find better ways to capture the carnage and the over-acted emotion. Hey, if cult-classics like “Tomatoes” and the “Toxic Avenger” can produce sequels why not this franchise.