The Trees Have Eyes was shot under the title Dead Bounty back around 2013. The fact it sat on the shelf for seven long years should have been a warning. So should the fact the film’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated since 2015. So, as much as I knew better, I let the trailer persuade me to check it out.
The first fifteen minutes were a strong clue as to why the film had been sitting on the shelf for so long. A team of bounty hunters led by gratuitous Star Wars reference BossK (Tony Moran, Halloween) and Henry (Timothy Patrick Quill, Army of Darkness The Blood Hunter) head into the woods after a fugitive. They insult a group of hikers, use racial slurs to describe the African American suspect, talk about how much fun hunting humans is, and manage to assault an innocent camper. And these apparently are the good guys.
As it turns out, those hikers were on their way to join the guy who got beat up. While they’re partying the goon squad have found their man. And a whole bunch of zombies have found them.
Now I get the idea of making the leads, badass, non PC tough guys and aiming the film at that audience. But The Trees Have Eyes goes beyond that and makes them into a bunch of unlikable thugs. They try to set Hannah (Cate Carson, Erebus) and Colt (David Michael Carpenter) apart from the rest. But if they really had reservations they wouldn’t be working with them. Let alone Hannah be hooked up with Henry’s son Junior (James Baker).
Most of the campers are zombie chow before we can even learn their names. A couple of the women get to do the take off your clothes and die routine. The one camper we do learn a bit about, Randall (Alexander Gauthier) is another asshole. So when the killing starts we have characters we loath or that we don’t know enough to care about getting eaten.
The gore effects are lacking in quantity and quality. An attempt at a zombie feast is ruined by an obvious latex corpse. Some of the other gut-munching scenes are effective. At other points, close-range shots to the head don’t even draw blood. The Trees Have Eyes further cheaps out by having a car crash happen off-screen.
It took director Jordan Pacheco (Blood Pi, Haunting in New England) and two co-writers George Kent Guarino and David Langill (Erebus) to come up with a script with almost no plot or interesting characters. If I remember this film for anything it’ll be for Nicole Campana’s nude swim scene.
The Trees Have Eyes is available from ITN.