Treevenge!!! Yes, three exclamation points. Hell yeah, it deserves it. This film hitting online is like Harry Potter in the theaters as far as the hype and anticipation. People have been talking about it in reverent tones since at least last year’s Fantasia festival. It is rare for a short film to develop a buzz amongst mainstream audiences (or at least mainstream geek audiences) but Treevenge kept circulating the festivals and more and more people who saw it felt the need to hold it over the rest of our heads, saying, “Man! You’ve got to see this INSANE short!” I finally caught it a few weeks ago at SIFF, and joined that elect group who had been Treevenged, and similarly taunted my friends and acquaintances for their deprivation. Well no longer. Posts on Cinematical, /Film, Horrorsquad and a bunch of other sites that get more traffic than us herald the arrival of Treevenge to the internet, with a permanent home at Twitch.
Treevenge is a horror film, but it’s the kind of over-the-top splatter-fest that elicits as many laughs as screams. We’re not talking Troll 2 laughs though. The self aware absurdity of the concept is matched only by the lovingly crafted odes to schlock and camp contained within. Like Kill Bill, the irony is outweighed by the awesome. Fans of old Raimi and Jackson blood-soaked horror films, a kinder if not gentler era of horror before the advent of torture-porn, will likely eat Treevenge up.
The film is a Christmas film, centering around the sadistic violence of the evergreen tree trade. The first half of the film depicts depraved, violent fellows gleefully chopping down trees. The trees cower and scream at the genocide, but are ultimately powerless in the face of the vicious aggressors. But even trees reach a tipping point and they will have their revenge. A gleefully gruesome revenge.
The Christmas spirit is consciously played up throughout the film, using music and effect treatments to artificially age the look and feel of the film so that it plays more like an annual institutional horror version of Rudolph or Miracle on 34th Street. The aging also connects the film to the older Grindhouse aesthetic, a hey-day of genre films that the film routinely references and which, the previously alluded to Quentin Tarantino, has helped to revive. There is a direct connection on this front—director Jason Eisener and the team at Yer Dead Productions got started with a winning entry for Robert Rodriguez’s SXSW Grindhouse trailer competition, with the similarly edgy Hobo With a Shotgun. The short played in front of screenings of Rodriguez’s and Tarantino’s Grindhouse double feature.
Congrats to the team at Yer Dead and Twitch for bringing Treevenge to the internet. I’m really curious about the details of this marriage. We used to think that this was how it would work for short film in the web age. Sites would buy web exclusivity agreements for short films for the sake of prestige and in order to drive traffic to their sites. The ease and ubiquity of the UGC sites though and the associated inability to protect digital video content was a deadly combo for web exclusivity of course. Just a week out from release Treevenge in already circulating YouTube. We’re linking to Twitch though, with the hope that this kind of practice can be revived.