The Barrens Reviews
"The Barrens" is a psychological thriller/horror film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and stars Stephen Moyer, Mia Kershner, Erik Knudsen, Allie MacDonald and Shawn Ashmore. The film focuses on a family man trying to strengthen the bonds with with his wife and children by returning to the great outdoors to the place he spent his childhood vacations- The Barrens, home to the Jersey Devil. The film deals with some very troublesome issues that many families face these days- disconnection from one another. In the world of high speed lifestyles and digital personalities there is nothing more alien than those we share blood and shelter with. Sometimes we are aliens even to ourselves in this new global stressed world. So why not get back to nature, back to basics, and back to the birthplace of evil and legend?! A very dark emotional set up that just spirals deeper into the void of despair.
"The Barrens" is a double fake out film. It is common in a lot of horror films where the audience is set up to believe then question one outcome of the plot only to have those very answers we seek to be simple distraction as we are lead back into a different synopsis. Sometimes it works in cinema and sometimes it just pisses the movie goer off never to see another film that vaguely resembles the premise. This time it works. There are no major trick story moments where your forced to decide whether what you see is real or not. You clearly know that something is deeply broken in the main character played by Stephen Moyer. What is left up in the air is the question of just how deep those breaks go. Also the film keeps a dark and sinister air about it from start to finish. There is no moment of rest where humor or comfortability takes over the story. It is steady as you go right up until the final tragic moment.
The ending is pretty killer in the fact that the whole time you are pointing blame in one direction for the nightmare unfolding, you soon become aware of the truth of the story. Is the Jersey Devil lurking in the thick pines of The Barrens or is it a more natural relatable killer at work? The film is really genius in the subtle way it plays with this "ever guessing" style of story telling because it doesn't force you to think one way or the other. The movie just carries you along for the ride into a chilling thriller. There are no really big scares or shock moments in this film but then again the movie didn't need them. I wouldn't go so far as to call it full on horror but it is a great suspenseful thriller.
Nevertheless,watchable for the "True Blood" actor.
The film stars Stephen Moyer from the True Blood series and Mia Kirshner from The Black Dahlia. They play Richard and Cynthia Vineyard who go on a camping trip with their kids, but soon their trip takes a sinister turn when mysterious vanishings and death follows them. Richard is convinced that it is The Jersey Devil that has been after him since he was a little boy and paranoia soon takes over when no one believes him. I thought the performances were lackluster and has a botch script that brought the flawed film down even further. The characters were underdeveloped and didn't make me give a damn about their story and what happens to them. It's a shame because they are likable actors in an unlikable film.
Director, Darren Lynn Bousman is becoming a hit and miss filmmaker, although it's not as bad as 11-11-11, The Barrens is by far his weakest effort. I did not like his filming style in this movie; it came off as uninspired and amateurish compared to his many superior efforts such as Mother's Day, Saw III, and Repo! The Genetic Opera. He is capable of so much more than this flat, made for SyFy channel movie. The writing and filming was just lazy to me. Hopefully it's a hit next time because he definitely has it in him.
Overall, the poster is more interesting to look at than watching the actual film. The premise and leads alone may keep you intrigued for the most part and has a twist or two towards the end, but The Barrens is as tedious as they come. Disappointing addition to the horror genre.