IF A TREE FALLS (2010) Review

Directed by Phillip Carrer
Written by Ryan Barrett
Starring Breanne TeBoekhorst, Ryan Barrett, Jennifer DeLucia

IF A TREE FALLS was the third film to play in last week’s TERROR IN THE AISLES 7 at the Portage Theater in Chicago last Friday. After watching the film, I asked my pal and co-editor of AICN COMICS, Sleazy G what he thought of it. He hated it. I didn’t. He wasn’t a fan of the amateur acting, the weightlessness of plot, and the snails pacing that goes on for basically the middle 45 minutes of the film. I must admit, the film did drag in the middle. It dragged a lot. So much so that I found myself cheering with the rest of the rowdy crowd when the quartet of annoying twenty-somethings start falling. This film’s major flaw is that the cast is either unlikable or undeveloped. And if you spend ¾ of the movie on said cast, there’s a problem.

That said, I do admire IF A TREE FALLS for its grindhouse style. Much like MACHETE and GRINDHOUSE, the film has been aged and scratched to make it feel like an old drive in movie. The camera often times feels like it’s being thrown around (much like the victims) from one killer to the other, not being allowed to focus or read the entire scene, but just snippets of a horrible act. Not showing a clear picture of what’s going on can be annoying to some, but not me. It left me unnerved. I knew horrible things were happening. I just couldn’t make them all out. The extreme close-ups and occasionally shaky and blurry shots made for an uncomfortable and claustrophobic experience—something I go to a horror movie for. For establishing a horrifying mood, IF A TREE FALLS is very successful.

As far as the plot goes, it’s a lot like THE STRANGERS or ILS, where people are targeted by faceless murderers in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason other than the thrill of it. The violence is harsh and often disturbing. IF A TREE FALLS tries to get philosophical at the end with one of the killers ranting to the audience how the system is inescapable using a wolf rebelling from the hierarchy of the pack only to form a new hierarchy elsewhere as metaphor, but this plays as more of an afterthought or an excuse for the gratuitous violence we just sat through rather than some kind of overarching theme. Though nothing new, IF A TREE FALLS is effective in that it left me unsettled, a feeling I rarely get from mainstream horror. Because of that, I found it worth seeing, even though others I saw it with disagree. For more info on IF TREE FALLS check out their Facebook page.

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