Horror Movie Review: The Killing Tree (2022)
A holiday-horror with a concept that turns out to be better than the actual film, The Killing Tree (originally titled Demonic Christmas Tree) comes from writer Craig McLearie and director Rhys Frake-Waterfield.
It stars Marcus Massey as a serial killer named Clayton Slayter who, along with his wife Magna (Gillian Broderick), went on a murder spree during the holiday season. Believing that people had forgotten the true meaning of Christmas, the couple murdered family after family, but were eventually caught when one young woman survived their spree. This is Faith (Sarah Alexandra Marks) and her testimonial saw Clayton executed for his crimes. Magna, seemingly getting away with it because Faith never actually saw her.
A few year later, Magna has found a way to resurrect Clayton using a magical grimoire. However, it doesn’t quite work as planned. His soul is resurrected but put inside a Christmas tree. Something he is so unhappy about, he kills Magna. Before setting off to get his revenge on Faith. Who just so happens to be throwing a farewell Christmas bash as she tries to move on from the events that scarred her all those years before.
Taking some of its cues from the wonderful horror short, Treevenge and more of its cues from the cult classic, Jack Frost. The Killing Tree has some fun tongue-in-cheek elements but bafflingly throws in a ton of dry and uninteresting drama that drags the movie down.
On the one hand, it’s telling you not to take it seriously, which is easy to do when you’re seeing a Christmas tree slash and slaughter its way through a party full of characters. On the other, it really wants you to care about character’s domestic issues and the difficulties they face in their relationships.
It’s these serious aspects of the movie that seem to dominate too, and it really slows the movie down. They’re not interesting, add little weight to basic characters and often feel extremely out of place. Boring is an understatement when it comes to describing The Killing Tree’s serious side. Not necessarily the fault of the cast though who all do a serviceable job.
So, how about it’s not so serious side? It comes and goes, and it all seems to be based around the effects. We’re all here for the gore. We’re all here for the killer Christmas tree rampage. Does it satisfy?
Unfortunately, an over-reliance on CGI stops it living up to expectations even if there is plenty of imagination when it comes to kills. Strangely, it’s at its most entertaining when it’s clearly a person in a tree suit shuffling around. The rest of the time, the CGI does not look good and almost all the gore is effects-laden too. Nowhere else does the poor effects stand out than with the cartoonish final battle. A section of the movie that sees the nonsense of the story reach incredible heights.
Overall, as much as there is stuff to enjoy in The Killing Tree, it’s a movie that promises a lot more than it delivers. Its uneven story-telling, slow moments and lack of impressive visual effects make it a missed opportunity. This could have been a modern-day Jack Frost but instead even that decades-old movie is more enjoyable than this.
The Killing Tree (2022)
The Final Score - 4/10