Directed by Jason Eisener and written by Rob Cotterill and Jason Eisner
Ah…the holidays. Yes. Those holidays. The Christmas-y ones. The holidays that fill you full of joy, happiness, togetherness, peace, family…frustration, long lines, anger, resentment, hatred, and, AND, AND….CHRISTMAS TREES! The bane of the past, present, and the future. Commercialism mixed with a toxic cocktail of entitlement, greed, waste, and environmental cynicism and acrimony. Just a plain ol’ dislike for mother earth.
As any good horror fan knows comeuppance is always right around the corner. Horror is full of checks and balances and there’s no more brutish check than mother earth. She watches, she waits, and strikes when needed — and boy does she strike! In the 2008 movie Treevenge, directed by Jason Eisener, mother nature gets her revenge on purposeless consumerism, wasteful practices, and, well, a gaggle of Canadian dolts. Having cut his teeth as a writer on the 2007 Tarantino/Rodriguez flick Grindhouse, you can see the outrageousness he would later bring to 2011’s Hobo with a Shotgun, and 2013’s VHS 2. He’s parked rather firmly in a loving look, a freaky feel, and the tacky and squalid side of grindhouse film making.
Treevenge begins with a series of Canadian loggers on a Christmas Tree farm hollering, cursing, screaming, and hacking the holy-hell out of every single tree in sight. The trees, confused and panicked, tremble with fear. They mutter to each other in hushed Ewok-like tones and sounds “…what are you doing to us?” and “help me, please help me.” The loggers don’t hear, or choose to ignore, their pathetic cries for help. Listening instead to their own horrible caterwauling “I wish I stayed in school. I WOULDN’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS CRAP!” The trees and the saplings are eventually chopped to the nub and sent off to grimy parking lots throughout suburban Canada.
As the trees are enslaved and subjugated to the grotesque horrors of Christmas, the trees wait and watch…and plot. A pastoral Christmas morning arrives and TREEVENGE is set in motion! Decapitated house cats, tree branch nasal torture, squished babies, Christmas tree stars buried in people’s necks, and a leg decapitation courtesy of a rightfully pissed chainsaw-wielding Christmas tree. The gore, glory, and terror all unfolds at the end of a not-so-quiet cul-de-sac.
Needless to say, this little 16 minute short is gruesome, grindhouse, goodness — head to toe — or rather…stump to crown. Jason Eisener really knows his way around a camera, piecing together a fun yet thought-provoking story, and the ability to reach in to the past and pull the best pieces and parts forward. The title card, Riz Ortolani’s music cribbed straight from opening theme from 1980’s gore-party Cannibal Holocaust, and even the hyper-realized characters and their hyperactive approach to each and every scene. Treevenge is a present. Plain and simple. This is a present to horror fans and fans of cinema, and who doesn’t love presents under the tree. Um, well, trees don’t — that’s who!