Treehouse Movie Review
Written by Richelle Charkot
DVD released by Phase 4 Films
Directed by Michael G. Bartlett
Written by Alex Child and Miles Harrington
2014, 96 minutes, Not rated
Theatrical and VOD release on February 20th, 2015 | DVD release on March 31st, 2015
J. Michael Trautmann as Killian
Dana Melanie as Elizabeth
Clint James as Killian's father
Daniel Fredrick as Crawford
Moody fall flicks have a firm place in the hearts of horror lovers. Seemingly even more geared to our inherent love of October than other run-of-the-mill scary movies, it's hard not to imagine the taste of hot cocoa every time viewers watch movies like Trick 'r' Treat or Halloween. Treehouse, set in a sleepy small town where the players on the high school football team rules as kings, follows a typical story line to other films of its calibre. There is a pretty girl, a nerdy guy and his popular but morally sound older brother, and something amiss in the woods. Although Treehouse is arguably charming albeit not very unique, its attempt to be a slow-burn is thwarted by an underwhelming plot, making it disengaging and hard to want to sit through.
Elizabeth returns home one day to find that her house has been abandoned, and all that remains are muddied footprints that suggest something bad may have happened. She goes out to the woods to try to find any hint of where her family may be, but becomes overpowered by something much stronger than her, causing her to hide in a treehouse. Meanwhile, Killian, our archetypal nerd hero, is dealing with the ridicule and emotional abuse from a group of bullies at school. Frustrated with his situation, he is surprised when his brother, Crawford, comes to his rescue by attacking his attackers. Crawford and Killian decide to go out into the woods that evening to set off fireworks and explore, but after dark, they find themselves in the same situation as Elizabeth and desperately seeking safety from what lurks among the trees.
Although charm can go a long way for some films that rely heavily on clichéd plot devices, there is often an air of humour or self-awareness that goes hand-in-hand. Treehouse, however, has a serious and dramatic tone in spite of its many chestnuts, which makes it not only predictable but very drawn out and dull leading up to the climax. Paired with subpar acting from the two main actors that is likely more suited to an after-school special, there is not a lot to hook viewers in for the ride during this film. In spite of its snooze-worthy plot, Treehouse derives most of its charm from its art direction. Depicting warm fall colours amongst the tiny town, contrasted with stark greys and dark greens while in the forest, it is visually interesting and reminiscent of the well-loved autumn horror flicks before it.
Viewers should avoid Treehouse if they are looking for something that is emotionally engaging, but keep it ready on the back-burner if they are ever in need of some background noise during fall cleaning.