If a Tree Falls (2010)

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If A Tree Falls (2010)

(18) Running time: 84 minutes

Director: Gabriel Carrer

Writer: Ry Barrett

Cast: Breanne TeBoekhorst, Ry Barrett, Jennifer De Lucia, Daniel Zuccala, Emily Alatalo

Reviewed by: Matt Wavish

This low budget, and at times rather nasty horror film, is clearly wanting to come across as some sort of seventies Grindhouse style exploitation flick. Director Gabriel Carrer has good intentions here, and the yellowish writing in the credits, the ‘damaged’ look of the films print and the funky music all scream old school business, and even the limited and violent story will conjure up thoughts of The Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave. However, the films potential to be either an arty throwback or a simple exploitation flick is quickly lost once the main story kicks in.

The opening scene is well crafted as we see a young lad and his girlfriend attempting to rekindle their damaged relationship. Sat in a car in the woods, their relationship clearly cannot be saved and ends with the girl asking to be driven home. On this night though it aint gonna happen as a man in a pig mask comes to the car window, and next thing we know the boyfriend is dead, and the girl is blindfolded with her hands tied, stripped to her undies. She then somehow clamours through the countryside with no sense of direction, and amazingly only stumbles into one or two trees. She is hit with a stick by an unseen assailant, yet continues on trying to get away. She then stumbles upon another girl, also tied up half naked, and by this time her blindfold has come off. She frees herself and the girl, resulting in a violent confrontation between the pair ending in death. A smart, effective opening scene that works, and even the poor editing and cheap and tacky look enhance the overall poisonous feel to the proceedings. Unfortunately the good stuff ends here.


Once we get into the story of a group of friends driving across country, the film takes a massive dip in quality and its sense of brutal fun is lost. The friends are not exactly engaging, and the poor quality and script don’t help matters. An altercation with a thug in a diner becomes laughable and delivers zero menace, and doesn’t help set the scene for the violence to come, and instead becomes quite laughable as the cast do their best to act. Once the friends get to the woods and set up camp they begin pointless conversations which are supposed to help us get to know them, but the timing and camera work is all off and distances the viewer. However, once the brutal thugs in masks turn up, things take another nasty turn, and become rather disturbing.

Delivered with the cold hearted precision of films like The Last House on the Left, the killers have no reason for their actions and simply do it for fun, and because they can. They don’t speak much, and the randomness of their actions makes for some chilling viewing. Now, while the violence mostly happens either off screen or is hidden by a shaky cam, the sheer brutality of what happens is a little hard to stomach, and the lack of meaning or excuse will turn a lot of viewers off. The violence is pointless and unnecessary, and had this been an arty, high quality production with a good script and better actors, then there may have been a hidden meaning to it all. Sadly, the bad guys try too hard to be bad, and the victims try too hard to be victims, and neither really convince, resulting in a simple collection of brutal, bullying violence that is actually quite sickening. There are no redeeming qualities, and the constant screams of “No!!!” will give you a headache. While there is plenty here to shock or upset viewers, the way the cast handle their roles, the amateurish production and the dodgy camerawork all result in a wasted exorcise. The violence for violence sake becomes less upsetting and more insulting as the film moves on, and the story (or lack of) never really goes anywhere.

If A Tree Falls is the perfect example of a poor quality production lacking in originality or bite, and the end result is easily forgettable but not forgivable. While the film does shock in places, there is way too much desperation to actually be shocking, and the film ends up a complete mess with a baffling ending which tries to be clever, but proves that you shouldn’t have continued watching once the opening scene had finished.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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About Matt Wavish 598 Articles
A keen enthusiast and collector of all horror and extreme films. I can be picky as i like quality in my horror. This doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a classic, but as long as it has something to impress me then i'm a fan. I watch films by the rule that if it doesn't bring out some kind of emotive response then it aint worth watching.

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