Middle-aged Steve (Greg James) is having a hard time, his marriage is in a state of imminent collapse. Feeling the need to break away from his everyday life, he organises a weekend retreat in the mountains with three of his closest friends - Dave (Dan Kyle), Mac (Jonny Lee) and Josh (Michael Draper). The idea is to enjoy a couple of nights of escapism by way of drinking and hunting.
Venturing out by car to a place in the middle of nowhere, via a stop at a hick bar full of rather unwelcoming patrons, their banter soon establishes that happily married Josh is the patsy of the group: a stick in the mud unappreciative of the other three's bawdy humour.
Upon settling into their remote cabin, the guys set about drinking and playing cards for money: two more things that Josh isn't exactly comfortable with. But, Josh's whining aside, all appears to be going relatively smoothly. Until, that is, the following morning when the group discover the 4x4 they travelled up in has had its engine terminally vandalised.
Well, this leaves the group stuck in the middle of nowhere with no transport and no signals on their mobile 'phones.
Steve and Dave decide to venture into the surrounding forest and find civilisation - or at the very least, a point where their 'phones actually receive a signal. The only issue with this plan is that both men realise, a short stroll into their journey, that they've left their 'phones back at the cabin. So Steve heads back to the cabin, followed shortly afterwards by Dave who in the meantime has found a footprint in the forest which is too big to be a bear. Josh quickly surmises the imprint was made a Sasquatch ... and suddenly the other three are keen to stay on in the hope of bagging themselves a Bigfoot.
Steve and Dave take their rifles out a short while later, and end up shooting a strange-looking bald kid when he fires an arrow in their direction. Discussing their options later that evening - over more beers, naturally - the group decides (well three of them do, I'll let you guess who the opposition is) not to inform the authorities, but continue to hunt for the Bigfoot: "we killed its kid, now we've got to deal with the Daddy". A guttural howl outside reaffirms that there is something out there in those trees ...
As Steve and Dave retire once again into the outdoors to hunt the beast, taking the only rifles in the cabin, Josh grows increasingly uneasy as the night closes in. A half-cut Mac tries to reason with him, suggesting they'll be heroes and make the news if they do manage to bring in an actual Sasquatch.
It's not long before Steve returns with a haunted look in his eyes, sharing the tragic news that Dave has been slaughtered in the woods. Unsurprisingly, Josh and Mac panic - insisting that they need to get out of there that instant. Alas, their 'phones are now missing and they have no wheels.
It seems that all they can do is sit tight in their cabin and let the beast, still heard howling in the night, come to them ...
BETWEEN THE TREES is an unexpectedly enjoyable low-budget ($300,000) flick with a couple of neat twists up its sleeve. Ostensibly a creature feature, it spins a fresh take by morphing into something quite different ... and then throws in another curveball when we least expect it. It's essentially a gumbo mix of folklore, revenge thriller and survivalist horror. Kudos are due to director Brad Douglas and writer Sam Klarreich for handling these thematic transitions in such a deft manner.
They're aided to no end by a decent cast who understand the film's balance of dark humour and serious drama well. There's no grandstanding, everyone just plays their roles to an even level of agreeable conviction. The script is fluid and reasonably intelligent; the way the characters develop and information is drip-fed to us while the action continually escalates is quietly impressive.
An enjoyable 80s style score relies heavily on synth sounds, while the cinematography and editing are strong throughout. A brisk pace helps with proceedings too.
BETWEEN THE TREES comes to us from those eternally fine folks at Uncork'd Entertainment, who have made the film available to stream for free to Amazon Prime members. It's presented in a 2.35:1 ratio and is uncut at 74 minutes and 5 seconds.
Shot and presented in HD, the picture quality is really fine, sharp but natural. Colours are robust, motion is smooth and night scenes don't suffer from any noise. The English stereo is extremely reliable too, while optional English subtitles are easy to read at all times.
While BETWEEN THE TREES may not be a genre classic by any stretch, it is fun and does throw out a few welcome surprises along the way. And a little gore. It's definitely worth a look.
Keep watching during the end credits too for an extra scene ...
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Uncork'd Entertainment|