For a film about a demonic tree, “Devil’s Tree: Rooted Evil” offers a bit more than branches and the litter system.
Samantha (Maddy Curley) is a student of journalism. She decides to write a story about a mysterious tree in St.Lucie as her assignment. The tree is a topic of many urban legends – apparently, it’s cursed.
Whenever a horror film begins with “based on a true story”, it immediately sets the bar high for itself.
This is exactly how “Devil’s Tree: Rooted Evil” begins and it quickly becomes the knife to the throat for the creators. It should have given the film credibility, but instead, it piles up the limitations. The directing duo – Joshua Louis and Chris Alonso – struggles with establishing a consistent vision for the entire film. Even though it is barely 80 minutes of screen time, “Devil’s Tree: Rooted Evil” constantly jumps from a solid-but-cheap gorefest to pieces of rubbish mumblecore. As a consequence, there are moments, when the viewer feels genuinely frightened, but they are quickly followed by cheesy acting bits and pretentious dialogues.
At times, “Devil’s Tree: Rooted Evil” delineates easily what it wishes to show, but the film’s execution is off. In one of the scenes, Samantha’s friend discovers a satanic symbol burnt on his arm. The creepiness of this fact swiftly dissolves when she asks whether it happened when he’s fallen in the woods. We can – as viewers – forgive a lot. But not a single person on this Earth could have possibly carved a satanic symbol on an arm by falling down.
Despite the chaos in the overall form, I liked the way “Devil’s Tree: Rooted Evil” revolved around its symbolism. As an example, Samantha’s first encounter with the tree is accompanied by an appearance of a snake, which instantly brings a biblical allegory to mind. Alonso and Louis like to bring in various inspirations to the table. Sometimes it pays off. The occult symbols, satanic rituals and biblical metaphors are not far-fetched, because at its core, “Devil’s Tree: Rooted Evil” is a ghost story. And it remains like that till the end.
You want an honest opinion about “Devil’s Tree: Rooted Evil”? Grab a beer, a bag of nachos and you’ll sit through it.
Devil’s Tree: Rooted Evil (2018)
Dir. Chris Alonso & Joshua Louis
Cast: A tree, a forest ranger and a blonde girl, who ruins pretty much half of the film.
Hate Grade: 5/10