The Barrens Reviews
A family of four head into the New Jersey forest, and run into a monster from the American folk legend: The Jersey Devil. It touches on some satanic plot devices, bad witch stories from the Salem days, and kids telling campfires stories about garbage they read online. Normally I wouldn't trash a movie for trying (and this one certainly does), but the problem with this film is that it's SO badly acted.
The father, played by Stephen Moyer (of True Blood fame) is the only actor with any real experience. Sadly he doesn't bring any of that to this film. He starts as a distant, derelict, and somewhat dead-beat father, trying to reconnect with his son and daughter, and quickly devolves into a madhouse drunkard possessed by abstract visions and nightmares. He never once comes across as father, and acts like a genuine jackass throughout the movie. His new wife doesn't do a very good job at being amicable but the children... my god these two kids are the most annoying poorly devised children you've ever seen. They are what baby-boomers must think Millennials must speak like. The dialogue that is regurgitated out of their mouths, makes one gag at the very thought that someone put pen to paper and devised this film. Every second on screen is an agonizing display of ineptitude, that makes you weep for the future generations of young actors. I never once felt like they were a family, nobody showed any genuine affection or love towards each other, and every scene is a lost opportunity to make a genuine film.
The most effort they put into it was with the monster, which sadly remains elusive throughout the film until the very ending. It almost makes it worthwhile until the screen lingers just a little too long and you can see the seems that connect the cowl to the rest of the body.
Nothing makes up for the clumsy acting and direction of this film, and you shouldn't bother. Badly Acted Drivel.
Through the film it is never clear whether the monster is in the forest, or in the mind of the man
A very enjoyable film to leave the viewer clinging on till the end and constantly questioning the mental state of the protagonist, thus: the legitimacy of his story
There's about a 5 minute clip after the credits that possibly had enough of a story to lead into a second film, that as of now has yet to happen.
"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.