The Evil Tree

eviltreeMisha and Daren bought a cabin in the woods. They have been living there for a few months and Daren is concerned because Misha has become increasingly withdrawn and depressed. In the hopes of cheering her up and helping her to love their new home, Daren invites a few friends to come out and spend a few days. What Daren doesn’t know is that the house hasn’t been causing Misha’s loneliness. A ghost has.

To start this out, I should admit I’m a chicken. Evil Dead, campy as it is, terrified me utterly. Joss Whedon’s hilarious Cabin in the Woods? I was cowering in my seat. I will never, ever go visit a friend’s cabin in the woods — not that I have any friends who actually have cabins. That’s why I was so surprised that this book didn’t scare me at all. I actually found it rather boring. The action moved too quickly and the storyline was full of holes. The characters were flat and lifeless. The drawings were creepy, but even those didn’t engage me.

The actual story behind what happened in the cabin involving the “evil tree” is a pretty scary concept. It should have been fascinating. Unfortunately, it is explained very early on, killing any potential mystery or suspense. I would have liked the characters to flounder a bit more before figuring out the best course of action. Once the group figure out what they have to do, everything is quickly and neatly tied up in a bow. It all just felt too rushed and obvious.

The characters were also confusing. I found myself distracted by their names (Misha, Daren, Even, Amarra) and wondered if they were supposed to be foreign, despite the setting being in America. Even, in particular, distracted me. I kept thinking his name was Evan and the book contained a typo. Also, each character felt flat and one-dimensional. They were each caricatures, rather than characters I could care about and connect with. Serg was particularly frustrating in this way. As one of two Hispanic characters, he kept talking about how he was being judged or made to do work because he was “brown”. It was a little funny the first time, but as it was mentioned at least twice more, it became over the top. It made him seem like the token non-white guy, rather than his own person.

The artwork is very eerie-looking. However, many images were creepy even when they were not supposed to be. The artist used one long black line to illustrate the characters’ cheekbones, but it just made them all look gaunt and zombie-like. This worked perfectly for Misha, who hasn’t been sleeping and is depressed and withdrawn, but the other characters are, as far as we know, in good health. The color palette was made up of dark greys, deep blues, and blacks, which helped add to the drama. However, it was not enough to make even the murderous ghost disturbing.

This graphic novel had a great premise — a creepy story that might gave a new twist to the classic “cabin in the woods” plotline. Unfortunately, the plot was revealed to quickly and the characters were dull and one-dimensional.

The Evil Tree
by Erik Hendrix
Art by Daniel Thollin
ISBN: 9781926914527
Arcana, 2012