Humans are weird. We have so many customs and traditions that are commonplace to us, things we couldn’t imagine not doing – from weddings and funerals, to shaking hands or making eye contact. Between and across various cultures, these practices differ, and what’s considered “normal” on one side of the globe can be viewed as peculiar, rude, or even barbaric on the other side. But what about outside of the human perspective? Consider, since it’s Christmastime and all, Christmas trees: They’re resting peacefully, growing along, not hurting anyone, and then we come along and chop them down with a freaking axe. We throw some tinsel and sparkly balls on them, then toss them to the curb when we’re done. What if trees were conscious of this, and after years of genocide at the hands of human beings, decided to get even? This is the premise of Jason Eisener’s campy and gruesome short film Treevenge.
In only 16 minutes, Eisener uses Christmas tree perspective to turn a holiday tradition into a heinous act of violence against something helpless, and the victims get a chance to pay back their tormentors in full. Treevenge takes the idea that trees are in fact sentient, fully aware that we slaughter them by the thousands yearly, humiliate them for our own entertainment, then throw them out with the trash. Humans (including Jonathan Torrens) are the villains, trees the innocents. Tree families are torn apart. Trees are thrown into strange vehicles and are being taken to mystery destinations, and they’re frightened. They are painfully put on display, tortured and mortified. They beg for a mercy that never comes.
Christmas morning, the trees have had enough and decide to take their revenge. It’s gory. It’s twisted. It’s everything it could be. As someone who can only take so many formulated holiday films (some lifelong jerk has an uncharacteristic change of heart and finally realizes what “really matters” in life) before wanting to smash my TV with a hammer, I appreciate the ridiculousness and abnormality of projects like Treevenge. I still watch the sappy ones every year, but there are a few movies I call “Christmas buffers” that keep my brain and heart from turning to total mush, and Treevenge is one of them even though it’s so short.
If you’re looking for a quick break between the feel-good cheesiness of A Christmas Story and the revelation-inducing sentimentality of It’s a Wonderful Life, check out Treevenge in its entirety on YouTube (posted below). It’s silly, warped, and not for the faint of heart. Only watch if you don’t mind a little gratuitous blood, violence, and sexually deviant tree-related behaviour with your turkey dinner.