After his mother dies, Matt (Joshua Hunter Magers) finds an unlikely person to commiserate with, his neighbor Angela (Jacqueline Scislowski). Angela’s mother also died when she was young, so she knows what Matt is going through, and she wants to help. As a self-professed alien, Angela claims that all souls, once free from their body, congregate on the planet Osiris. Matt is dubious, but Angela offers to prove it, he goes along with her.
The Treehouse is a study not just of young grief, but also of empathy and imagination. As Matt and Angela go on their journey together, we’re given snippets of how the two may have known each other prior to Angela’s reaching out after Matt’s mother’s death. The revelations there wash over the audience in much the same way they crash over Matt; suddenly whether his mother’s soul is waiting for him on Osiris isn’t the most important takeaway from this experience. He’s enlightened, just not in a way that he, or we, may have imagined.
Or that’s my interpretation, or at least projection, of what was going on for Matt while in that treehouse. You could just as easily look at the film in a more literal sense, what you’re being presented is precisely what is happening, and come away with an even more fantastical explanation. I’d welcome that perspective, and could even chime in an idea or two, but for me it’s about that usually unheralded moment where the concern for the Me transforms into an understanding of the We.
Technically, the film is more than sound, delivering the commonplace and the fantastical with equal skill. Overambitious attempts can often undermine the strength of a film like this, but the short works within its resources and talents to deliver the best that it can with what it has. The space suits alone, waiting for Matt and Angela in the treehouse, take the mind miles away before any effects-work attempts to do the same.
The Treehouse is, for me, a quality, complex short film that may not require, but could benefit from, repeat viewings. I think there’s more to it than even I grasped the first time around. One viewing, however, will deliver a wonderful experience, for those open to it.
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