The Killing Tree (2022) IMDB description: “On Christmas Eve, a widow casts a spell to resurrect her executed husband. However, when the spell goes wrong, the husband is brought back as an Evil Christmas Tree and is hell-bent on getting revenge on the one who caused his execution.”
Why I took it off the list: I like to watch a good holiday-themed horror in the run-up to Christmas (last season I reviewed French chiller The Advent Calendar (2021) and the BBC’s classic Ghost Stories for Christmas. So when I learned that a slasher film about a demonically-possed killer Christmas tree had just come out, I couldn’t resist giving it a watch.
I wasn’t expecting much given the ridiculous premise, obviously low budget, and the fact it’s from the director of the similarly dubious-sounding upcoming Winnie-the-Pooh horror film Blood and Honey (2023), but it sounded like it could be a fun so-bad-its-good watch. Or just really terrible… Either way, I decided to check it out!
Review of The Killing Tree (2022)
Originally named Demonic Christmas Tree, The Killing Tree pretty much delivers exactly what those two titles promise: a ridiculously over-the-top premise that is certainly good for a few laughs. But in its execution, most of them come unintentionally, through a mix of terrible decisions made throughout the production.
First of all, and maybe most damning for a movie called The Killing Tree, the film looks cheap as hell, especially in its mix of practical and CGI effects.
The film employs a barley-mobile man in a suit (whose shoes are visible far too often) for its close-up shots, and an incredibly dexterous CGI monstrosity for wide angles, which sprints around on flexible trunks and shoots killer vines out of its body. This is jarring, to say the least, and makes the threat level of the creature vary wildly throughout the film
While this could be overlooked if the film was inventive in its story and kills, The Killing Tree has a serious lack of imagination in these areas. This murderous tree is really just a version of Chucky wrapped up in baubles, lights, and tinsel (complete with the possessed-by-a-murderer backstory and an almost carbon copy of the killer doll’s sarcastically mean personality).
Some Campy, Fun Scenes but too much terrible padding
The Killing Tree falls back on a lazy, hackneyed slasher story of a possessed ( insert item here) murdering a bunch of pretty young things with no personality at a party. Puzzlingly, the bulk of the film is taken up by said ‘characters’ innately chatting about their problems, and any attempts to inject sympathy or even make these ciphers feel three-dimensional fall flat.
Most of the actors are incredibly wooden and seem like they have wandered off the set of a soap like Hollyoaks (and they’re given the dialogue to match the look). The one exception is the lady playing the killer’s wife, who gives an amusingly over-the-top demented sidekick performance straight out of a Hammer horror film.
Possibly most hilariously, the film’s script gives a strong impression that it was written with an American setting in mind, then hastily retconned when it was decided it could be made on a shoestring budget in the UK.
Hence we get scenes of Essex girls called Cindy and Tina talking about drinking eggnog and running around outdoors dressed in skimpy sexy Santa outfits in the middle of the British winter. There’s also a gratuitous sex scene set at the English manor’s outdoor swimming pool (seriously, have these people been to the UK in December?).
Saying that, the film can’t help but be entertaining at times. Some of the dialogue is genuinely side-splitting in its badness and a couple of scenes of the man-tree bumbling about are also good for a laugh. Plus, the film ends on a couple of what-the-actual-fuck twists that I couldn’t help but admire for their sheer insanity.
Final Score: 5/10
The Killing Tree (2022): Worth Watching?
It depends. The Killing Tree (boasts?) some truly terrible acting, writing, production design, and (not-so-special) effects, and the execution lets down what should be a ridiculously enjoyable premise.
Still, If you’re looking for a so-bad-its-good Christmas horror to put on in the background while you have a few (or you might need a lot) glasses of mulled wine with friends, you could do worse.
The Killing Tree (2022) [Demonic Christmas Tree]
Directed by Rhys Frake-Waterfield
Written by Craig McLearie