7 August 2018



UNDER THE TREE will be released in UK cinemas nationwide from 10 August 2018!

'That tree is coming down.'

'Are you watching porn? Is that you and Rakel?'

'I just wanted to tell him one more time how much I loved him.'

'What if some idiot stole your computer? Then I'm the next Kim Kardashian.'

This isn't a Christmas film, despite the slightly misleading title. It's a really top-notch Icelandic-language film about two sets of warring neighbours whose feud over a tree belonging to one set escalates into a bloodbath.

And don't think that that kind of thing couldn't happen. I had some rather unpleasant people as neighbours for years myself until they very kindly decided to move to the other side of the country of their own volition. And I didn't even have to reach out to the local mafia for a favour, lol. Which is just as well because, for some reason, they only do a favour for you so that you'll end up having to do a favour for them. I mean, wtf is up with that...?

Anyway, Atli Baldvinsson is a total dick. He's married to Agnes and he's been caught wanking to some old home-made porn he filmed with an ex-girlfriend. Porn he filmed and then kept, which seems to be what's really pissing off Agnes. He didn't even have the decency to delete it when he got married. It's not a crime to look at porn. It's only a crime to get caught, haha.

Atli clearly thinks that Agnes is over-reacting when she boots him out of their fancy apartment and denies him access to their three-or-four-year-old daughter Asa. He's obliged to move back in with his parents, who are in their sixties with problems of their own.

They had another son once, Uggi, who disappeared. Just vanished one day without a trace. Atli and his Dad know in their hearts that he killed himself and his body was just never found. Inga, the Mum, is a fiercely stubborn woman and she refuses to believe this. She waits for him to come home while she self-medicates with booze. The Dad, Baldvin, deals with his own pain by running off to choir practice and hiding there to avoid awkward conversations.

Meanwhile, Mum and Dad are having trouble with the next-door neighbours, Konrad and his beautiful blonde second wife Eybjorg, or 'the younger model,' as Inga terms her bitterly. A big old tree in Mum and Dad's garden is casting a shadow on the neighbours' porch and Eybjorg's not happy about it, as she likes to sunbathe in her skimpy bikini whenever she gets the chance.

Humph. She could just move her skinny arse to another part of the garden, sniffs Inga. At least she takes cares of herself, counters her husband Baldvin, showing he's noticed the long lithe bare brown limbs of the exceptionally well-kept Eybjorg.

Well, it's not easy being a younger model and it's nice when people notice the effort you put in. You've got to keep your appearance up permanently because, if you slob in your sweatpants eating biscuits the way his wife used to do, you run the very real risk that he'll go out and look for a replacement model.

You can't ever refuse him sex, even if you're dog-tired and feel like shit, because that's what she- the wife- used to do. You live in constant fear that he'll either go back to the wife or find
someone even younger and fitter than you. What's that they say? Marrying the mistress creates a vacancy. How painfully true that is.

I tried it myself for a while, you know, being the younger model and living in fear of being replaced myself. It was exhausting and, in the end, it just wasn't worth the trouble. Sweatpants and biscuits will out, whether you want 'em to or not...

Anyway, Atli makes a total show of himself by turning up at Agnes's workplace demanding to know why she's changed the locks to their flat. Well, the porn, d'uh. He gets aggressive with Agnes, leading to his being chucked out of the office by Agnes's male work colleagues.

 As if that wasn't bad enough, he yanks their little girl Asa out of kindergarten without anyone's permission (that's a huge no-no, that is; you can be shot now for doing that) and takes her on an unauthorised picnic. To the IKEA parking-lot. That's right, what a complete and utter tosser. He's not exactly endearing himself to Agnes with his unpredictable shenanigans.

She gets her own back at the hilarious residents' meeting at their apartment block though. She announces to everyone present: 'Do you know that he (Atli) films himself having sex with other women, then he masturbates to the videos?' To which the Chairman of the meeting replies: 'We're here to discuss the drainage,' and a shame-faced Atli mumbles: 'I hadn't actually started masturbating yet.' Oh well, that's all right then...

The missing Uggi's birthday comes and goes. Inga sets a place at the table for him and tremblingly sings Happy Birthday over a specially-cooked dinner while crying into her wine. Dad and Atli escape into the tent they've ridiculously set up on the front lawn for sleeping in at night and guarding the place against further 'attacks' from the neighbours.

Dad says: 'Even though your Mum has gone nuts, we can always hide at the bottom of a bottle.' It's truly nice that they get to spend some quality father-son bonding time in their little Boy Scouts' tent, but all they're doing is hiding from their problems. There'll be a high price to pay for that, for both of them. It would have been easier just to face up to the problems like men.

Meanwhile, the battle over the tree continues apace. Some car tyres are slashed, then a party of garden gnomes are horribly violated. ('Do you recognise these gnomes?') CCTV is installed, no doubt at great trouble and expense.

Then first a cat goes missing, then the beloved dog of Eybjorg, who's accustomed to taking Askur with her when she goes cycling. Then someone purchases a chainsaw. And, unless you're Leatherface or someone similar, there's only one reason you'd be buying a chainsaw...

UNDER THE TREE, an Icelandic-Danish-Polish collaboration in the Icelandic language, is a terrific watch, filled with the blackest of black humour and a whole host of painful but spot-on relationship truths. 

My attention didn't wander once, except to wonder briefly why all Scandinavian people are so good-looking, thin and blonde. The women and the men. Is it the law over there or something that all the women look amazing in fitness gear and the men ditto in chunky knitted sweaters?

And you never see any of them- the Scandinavians, that is- moving over here to Ireland because their own countries are so much more efficient and cost-effective than ours. It's a bit unfair. And their childcare and education systems are far superior to our own and, because Scandinavian people are so thin and attractive, they probably never have to worry about stripping naked like we Irish people have to. Consequently, they probably have far fewer hang-ups.

So, let's see. They have stunning good looks and tons of great sex with other good-looking people and we have crooked bankers and a growing obesity problem, probably due to the fact that our fast food costs way less than stupid salad. Oh, that's just great, thanks, whoever's in charge up there. Why don't you just make Dublin the bloody hipster capital of the world while you're at it? Oh yeah, that's right. You already did. Cheers, mate. 'Preciate it.

UNDER THE TREE will be released in UK cinemas nationwide from 10 August 2018!

Under the Tree will be released in selected UK cinemas from 10 August 2018, followed by a late 2018 home video release as part of the Eureka’s Montage Pictures range of world cinema titles.

Festivals & Awards

Venice International Film Festival – Orizzonti Competition

Toronto International Film Festival
Austin Fantastic Fest – Comedy Features – Best Director
Hamptons International Film Festival – Golden Starfish Award

Zurich Film Festival – Special Mention
Hamptons Film Festival
Chicago International Film Festival
Sao Paulo International Film Festival
Thessaloniki International Film Festival
Leeds International Film Festival


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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