What Is It All About?
A whole town becomes under curfew after another young boy and his sister go missing, and no one is allowed out once the sun sets. Two brothers decide to ignore the rules and venture into the woods and when they stumble upon a Tree House, high up in the forest trees……they embark on a nightmare that will never end………
Now this is why we created HorrorCultFilms.
I know that Matt is quite rightly looking forward to seeing The Babadook and for good reason, the horror is being praised from every critic out there and no doubt if the rumours are true, should become the horror film 0f 2014, but when we created this site nearly five years ago, it was because of films like Treehouse. A movie that is hardly known but is out there now, waiting to be discovered and watched.
We, the creators of HCF have a list of films that remind ourselves of the main reason why we started HorrorCultFilms. The Torment, Session 9, The Objective, Lighthouse, Malevolence, Behind The Mask…..and a few more, are films that we talked about for hours on end, praising the quality and getting deeply frustrated that they were being missed by the masses. Little did we know that in those deep talks, the building blocks of this very site were starting to bloom and now a few years down the line, we have been privileged to not only bring those films to our loyal readers, but also have managed to interview some of the directors.
Only a few films get added to that list. They must have a certain quality that go by our check list!
* Not heard of with us watching thinking “Where the heck did this come from?”
*Guaranteed to be missed by the Masses
* Shows a style that puts most of the films that headline the box office to shame
* Gets us so excited and then deeply frustrated that we need people to discover this stunning gem of horror.
If a film ticks all those boxes, then its on the list and from this moment on………….Treehouse…….you are on it!
It takes a lot these days in the horror genre to blow me away, but British director Michael Bartlett has simply succeeded on every level. Treehouse is a rocket up the genre. Ignoring all the “must have” formula of recent times, notably found footage and gore, Bartlett who was also responsible for the pretty decent The Zombie Diaries way back in 2010, has spun out an old fashioned tale where mystery and imagination grips you and doesn’t let go. Its not just the story, its also the way it is filmed by his deft touch which shows that this guy is one to look forward too. He doesn’t waste any angle, each frame is lovingly pulled towards you and you find yourself drawn in from start to finish.
I need to keep the description and plot brief because its best to go into Treehouse with out knowing anything. I was tempted not to add the usual custom trailer to this review and I stress to any reader of this review….. not to watch if you have to. The film works brilliantly by not knowing. What starts like a normal slash film, ends up completely different simply because you will not have the faintest idea what is going on!.
The plot is this and its simple really, Elizabeth (Dana Melanie) comes home and finds her little brother missing. She goes outside and spots a blurry figure in the distance and gives chase. Its a good set up to begin with. We then cut to a local town where a curfew is put in place, simply because an officer of the town mutters “Its happening again”. The curfew means that no one is allowed out at night, which for an horror film, (if you can actually call Treehouse an horror-more on that in a bit), you know will be broken. Two brothers Killian (J. Michael Trautmann) and Crawford (Daniel Fredrick) decide to venture out for a date night and to set off some fireworks. While inside the dense forest, they look back and see a Tree House. Climbing up and looking in they discover Elizabeth who is shaken, and traumatised. Its not long before the brothers realise they have stumbled on their worst nightmare and the terror has only just began.
And that is all I am going to tell you.
What is outside? And why are the trio in danger? Is it Aliens? Bigfoot? The Inbreeds from Wrong Turn? Maybe Jason Voorhees? The beauty of Treehouse is that for nearly most of its running time, Bartlett gives nothing away. Its like a huge tease and you can feel the director relishing every set up because he knows what he is doing to the audience. I have already mentioned just how good the camera angles are, but there is one shot that is so sublime that I was engrossed with imagination. Its when night falls and our gang are hiding separately in the shadows on both sides of the Tree House. All we have for light is the moon that shines into the opening of the place. My eyes were just transfixed into that doorway. It reminded me of the original Paranormal Activity, where Milo has set that camera and all we do as the viewer is look constantly at that bedroom door. In Treehouse, you just waiting for something to happen, something to appear…its wonderfully set up and adds to the quality on offer.
Bartlett comes across as a confident director who clearly has watched enough horror to know how to play with our expectations, His use of music is another huge factor in proceedings and along with the likes of Ti West and Stevan Mena, we have another talented guy who looks likely to serve the horror genre well. Just by that clever walkie talkie scene, will tell you exactly just how good this guy could possibly be.
Treehouse is more of a suspense thriller than horror. There are shades of deeply dark disturbing work on offer, but by treating the audience as intelligent which many films these days films fail to do, what we have here is movie that lets you make your own mind up, which brings me to the much disputed ending.
Probably the reason why I can’t give the film the five star treatment, the climax has divided many who have seen it.. On my recommendation, three friends watched this during the week and two hated the end, while one thought that because of the flashbacks which are littered at times through out, he really understood it and called it a brave thing. For me personally, once again it was all about taste, I was happy with the answers to the mystery because it added weight to the overall plot, but the final stages still has me swaying one side to the other. At the moment, I am kind of looking at the overall film and seeing how Bartlett has treated the viewer to make their own minds up through out, the end offers the same….which is not a bad thing and it also nicely leaves it open for a sequel perhaps?
Overall, Treehouse is that rare beast you get in single horror year. With the genre full of the same old style and ideas, what we have here is a refreshing change, a horror that refuses to sell out for a cheap scare and relies on good old fashion story telling and for that reason alone, Treehouse is one of the finest horrors of 2014…..