‘It was supposed to be a weekend of fun’
Between the Trees is a 2018 American survival horror feature film produced and directed by Brad Douglas (Besetment) from a screenplay by Sam Klarreich. The movie stars Greg James, Michael Draper, Jonny Lee and Dan Kyle.
Steve, suffering from a collapsing marriage, invites his three closest friends on a weekend retreat to the mountains only to discover his real troubles are in the trees that surround them. They encounter a deranged killer and their fun weekend becomes a deadly fight for survival…
Take The Hills Have Eyes, but remove the suspense, gore and excitement. Then take Wrong Turn, but remove the humour, gore and excitement. Take what’s left over, toss out some plot details so that it has a runtime just longer than an episode of a TV show and you have: Between the Trees.
Between the Trees is scheduled for a VOD release, the kind you finally settle on after scrolling through Amazon Prime for an hour, despite feeling like it might not be a great idea. But you’ve wasted enough time looking and you really just want to watch a movie.
The first confirmation that you made a bad decision comes in the first five minutes. There’s a couple having a subdued argument about their relationship over super dramatic music, the kind of music that plays during the climax of a movie about demonic possession or something. The music makes you think of Samara crawling out of a TV set or demons finally being banished from Regan’s battered body, but what you see is a married couple being mildly annoyed with each other.
The movie has a running theme of mild annoyance. All of the friends on this trip are annoyed with their wives back at home and annoyed with each other for being annoyed. The script is banal, the vibe is bland, the pacing is too fast for the story to unfold or for tension to build and the story itself is predictable.
Every guy in the group is “manly” to an exaggerated degree (think flannel shirts and constant chugging from a bottomless bottle of generic whiskey) except for one, Josh. Josh is constantly whining, complaining, crying and even puking (multiple times). His unlikability persists through the entire movie, start to finish.
So, these guys are supposed to be on a hunting trip but they never actually hunt. They hike for about five minutes once. They spend most of their time having heart-to-heart talks about their marriages. There’s a lot of angry man-crying. A lot of drama.
Between the Trees also takes place during Christmas for no apparent reason. It’s not a Christmas movie, it’s not even a winter movie. No snow, no having to fight the cold, no trying to get home to family, no reason for the Christmas angle at all.
Oh, and they’re being hunted for some reason by a mutant cannibal guy with the weakest costume you’ll ever see. You can practically see the Spirit Halloween price tag hanging out the back of his mask.
And there’s no real effects, practical or otherwise. Nothing ever happens on camera. Nothing of value, overall, happens on camera.
Yo Adrian, MOVIES and MANIA guest reviewer via All Horror
“The characters are one dimensional and only Steve and Dave (Dan Kyle) are remotely believable as friends. The dialogue is clunky and forced and we never feel any real suspense. Between the Trees does pull out a couple of twists in the last twenty minutes or so, but it’s too little too late. Without a connection to the characters, the twists fall flat.” Jim Morazzini, Voices from the Balcony
Between the Trees is released on Demand and digital HD by Uncork’d Entertainment on March 5, 2019, and DVD on June 11, 2019.
Cast and characters:
- Greg James … Steve – Grimm
- Michael Draper … Josh – Z Nation
- Jonny Lee … Mack
- Dan Kyle … Dave
- Marlyn Mason … Bonny
- Bethany Jacobs … Ed’s Girlfriend
- Amber Stonebraker … Jenny
- Hannah Barefoot … Maggie
- Scott Thomas … Tall Guy Ed
74 minutes | 2.35:1 aspect ratio