Directed by: #JózsefGallai
Written by: #JózsefGallai
Running from his tormented past, a man takes a job in the middle of the woods, only to find his quiet life shattered when it soon turns out nothing around him is what it seems.
Filmed in nine days, I Hear the Trees Whispering (2022) blends a combination of genre elements to its atmospheric, isolating setting by a cabin in the woods, including mystery, thriller and science fiction. The film has won an impressive twenty two awards since its release, including six Jury Prizes, and many critics have praised the movie for its unsettling tone and direction.
We begin with an intriguing opening, an aerial shot highlighting a lone car driving along a deserted road nestled amongst a forest. Various radio voices and music segments can be heard, setting up a mysterious tone when one woman discusses the found footage genre (which the film will soon begin to initiate in its direction) and one reporter discusses a man who lived in a tent for thirty years without any human contact. These reminders of disturbing realistic and media related content do well to establish our chilling setting of a secluded cabin in the woods, a typical horror setting.
Director József Gallai favours the first person perspective (Varga) for the majority of the runtime, shooting in the point of view of protagonist Will , who goes about exploring around the cabin and experiences bizarre occurrences in the process. In a later twist this choice of direction becomes a key element of set up and pay off and whilst the concept is undoubtedly fascinating, the execution fails to deliver on the most basic function of a film - keeping its audience engaged and entertained.
Will goes about his days speaking through a headset to his supposed boss, June (Saxon), revealing his tragic personal life of losing his wife to a car crash and leaving his daughter with his father in law to care for her. This slow burn mystery/horror combination can work well and there are creepy moments scattered throughout, such as when Will sees a lone man with a flash light in the woods, or when he finds what he first thinks is a human finger in a bag, only for it to be a USB stick. However, the film very soon begins to challenge your patience through its simplistic presentation of two people talking from opposite ends of the phone. This makes it difficult to build a rapport between these characters, who are given development from their conversations, but remain too disconnected from us to care about them. Unfortunately, Gábor Varga gives a particularly distracting and unconvincing voice performance as the voice of Will, sounding more like that epic voice guy we always hear in superhero trailers rather than a normal person.
Although the big twist at the end does offer an interesting meta commentary, inviting us to think back on the film in a different light, the fundamental basis of an engaging screenplay is missing here. Therefore, the ending does not leave as strong an impression as it wants to due to the sloggish pacing which built up to it and despite some beautiful cinematography throughout, strong visuals are not enough to save a plodding screenplay.
I Hear the Trees Whispering (2022) trailer: