Reviews: horror in Russia – The Body Tree
The Body Tree,
Directed by Thomas Dunn,
Starring Erica Dasher, Emma Dumont, Kyle Jones, Ivanna Sakhno, Gene Farber, Costa Ronin
A group of American students travel to rural Russia, a year after one of their friends was murdered. They are there under the invite of the dead girl’s family, to attend a traditional folk ritual to say goodbye to their friend. As soon as they arrive there are strange supernatural rituals that make all but their wise, old (and perverted) professor feel like fish out of water. Naturally it’s not long before the ritual goes wrong and paranormal forces are set upon the teenagers and those Russians (otherwise this wouldn’t be much of a horror film, after all!).
It’s clear that the budget of The Body Tree was quite well-spent, but the good production values are let down by several of the male performers. I hate to be harsh, but really, some of those actors, they need to go back to drama school. The story and the production values were really enjoyable, especially for an Indy horror movie, but the glaringly bad performances from the younger male stars will shock even the most hardened B-Horror movie fan into shaking their heads.
This is essentially the story of a murdered college student and her friend,s the year after her death, trying to get some emotional closure on her loss. One of the girls is trying to prove her brother, who was convicted of the crime, is innocent and won’t let go of that particular bone. We have others who were close with the murdered girl who range in their caring for her loss. The pervert professor of their class is glad to be on this trip to the mountains of Russian Siberia as he’s been studying the provincial rituals of the dead for a long time, and this gives his a step away from some rumours that are following him.
The footage of the Russian countryside is beautifully captured, and you get a real sense of the place. This also gives you the isolation that a horror film like this needs to be effective. There is no point in having a group of people being able to run from the evil if they can make it to safe ground easily. What makes The Body Tree different from your other run of the mill B-Horror movies is that there is another element thrown in to the story that takes you away from the horror. There is a great whodunnit murder mystery that maybe should have been explored deeper. We’re trying to find the killer of the dead girl during a birthday party where the character development takes place more than at the Russian end of the story. It’s classic bring students to a place and kill them off with a little twist horror trope.
While the who done it part of the story is what I enjoyed, it’s the lack of that being developed is the greatest flaw. Trying to find out who is the killer of the girl could have elevated this from B-Movie to Scream levels of enjoyment. But thankfully we can go back to the horror element, where you start to be thankful that some of the aforementioned male segments of the cast gets killed very quickly, and then the development of the evil that is chasing them down.
Mixing the feel of the remake of The Wicker Man with some parts of Supernatural, seasons 1 to 5, Demons makes the evil stalking its prey a little more horrific. The clichés that you expect are there, don’t worry they don’t stray too far from the classics, but the production values of the film and the who done it storyline raise it above the norm.
The Body Tree is available to screen on digital download in the UK from November 13th