I’m glad to see that the “people go to a cabin, people get killed” subgenre of horror is still alive and well in 2019. It’s true, we’ve seen this scenario a million times at this point; only the reason for arrival in the wilderness and the motive of the killer changes from story to story. Luckily, Between the Trees, from screenwriter Sam Klarreich and director Brad Douglas, takes a new approach to two different plot elements in this category. But, I’ll get to that a little later on in this review. Between the Trees follows Steve and his three best friends as they take a retreat to the mountains in order to help Steve deal with his failing marriage. A break from the stress of every day life is just what Steve needs, but the group’s relaxation turns to grizzly trauma as a deranged psychopath starts hunting them. Miles away from civilization, the men take matters into their own hands, which puts them into an even deadlier fight for survival. Who will make it out of the cabin alive? Coming to digital HD and on demand markets on March 9th 2019 and DVD on June 11th 2019, Between the Trees stars Greg James (“Combat Report”), Michael Draper (“Z Nation”), Jonny Lee, Dan Kyle (“Grimm”), Marilyn Mason (“Longstreet”), Amber Stonebraker and Hannah Barefoot.
Two things instantly struck me during my viewing of Between the Trees. First, this is one of the very few times that a group of men lead a horror film. Usually it’s a woman as the survival girl and a handful of guys are used as canon fodder, or it’s a group that’s equally matched. Between the Trees is completely a “guys” movie with the men serving as co-leads and a handful of ladies handling nothing more than bit parts. It’s a scenario we don’t see often, but it’s one we should root for more if we’re living in a world where every story needs to be told. And what’s great about having an all male cast is that when bad things happen to them, the viewer gets to see more emotion than “i’m angry” “i’m stubborn” “go get me a beer.” The main characters in Between the Trees uncover a lot of dark truths and buried feelings, and they go through the ringer emotionally. Most of them cry. It’s a good reminder, in the world of horror no less, that men are capable of showing emotion and when overly stressed, their nerves are on blast just as much as everyone else. But don’t worry, there’s enough cursing, beer drinking, gun shooting and brooding to keep this movie from being a tear-fest or a full-fledged drama.
Second, Between the Trees is a horror film, but it teeters on the line between cross contamination. Screenwriter Sam Klarreich was able to work some comedic elements into the script, which was brought to life mostly by one character. It’s subtle, but the comedy is definitely there; think Wrong Turn and a very, very watered-down version of The Hangover. Also, director Brad Douglas made certain parts look like an action movie. So, as a viewer, you’re treated to a lot of different genre elements more than just gore and hacking and slashing. Still, Between the Trees never fully crosses those boundaries; although it packs quite the thematic punch. The hopelessness of a lost marriage so accurately mirrors the anxiety of being trapped in the woods with a serial killer. I know that looks weird reading it, and you’ll understand it when Between the Trees sees its on demand and DVD release courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment. The film is produced by Brad Douglas with executive producer Mark Baird, and it sees cinematography from Charles Greenwood and editing from Greg James. What’s always great about films like this one is a talented cast can bring the script to life, and the equally as talented crew can bring landscape to life, too. There’s a lot of breathtaking scenery as a backdrop to the suspense and bloodshed.
With a daunting opening and an unexpected ending, Between the Trees is much better than I expected. Barbed Wire Films produced a feature film whose atmosphere and mood are equally matched by anticipation and death. It’s a delicate dance that was executed perfectly. With a strong male-led cast and a villain that reads like a nostalgic throwback, I have nothing but good things to say about this flick. Look for it on digital HD and on demand March 9th 2019. It’s a wilderness-grown thriller that proves a quick brutal death is better than slowly dying on the inside. Final Score: 7 out of 10.