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October 17, 2012

Movie Review: The Barrens (2012, Anchor Bay)

Directed by Darren Lynn BousmanStarring Stephen Moyer, Mia Kirshner and Erik Knudsen
Run Time: 94 minutes

The Vineyard family has packed up and headed into the woods of New Jersey for a camping trip which is supposed to revolve around the spreading of the ashes of Richard Vineyard’s father. Upon getting to the campgrounds, things aren't quite the way Richard remembers them being as a kid, so he decided to pack up once again and head deeper into the woods and away from the crowds of partying teenagers.  And the deeper they trek into the woods, the more strange and unexplainable things they begin to experience. Soon the stakes are raised and the trip becomes a game of life and death.....are they being stalked by the legendary Jersey Devil? Or is the true source of the terror coming from someone or something much closer to home?

Personally, I think one of the hardest things to pull off for a film maker is creating a really good monster movie on a low budget, (without stumbling into the usual cliche-filled pitfalls of the genre). Replacing big-budget effects with a solid script, great acting and a creepy, atmospheric story is easier said then done. And The Barrens isn't just a good monster movie, it also manages to be a pretty effective horror/thriller as well.

It is a bit of a slow-burn, and takes a while to start running on all cylinders, but the first hour is filled with enough creepy moments and mysterious goings-on to keep you right there in the story, always wondering.....Just what the hell is it that is going on?

Now, with that being said, where this movie really shines is in the final act. Where a sort of duel story line may or may not be taking place. I would love to elaborate, but that really would spoil the fun for you. I will tell you this though, the final 30 minutes of this movie are an absolute blast, as the movie is just oozing with a feeling of dreadful paranoia which culminates into a climax that is nothing short of awesome.  It was one of those things where you finish the movie and you say to yourself, “Oh man, I KNEW that would happen.” And that's not to say it was so much predictable, but more of a sense of being the type of ending that I really NEEDED it to be. I guess the word I’m looking for is “satisfying”.

Aside from the solid story-line, the cinematography and locations added a real sense of otherworldliness, with misty fogs and the creepy darkness of the deep woods lending to the overall feel of the movie.

The monster itself was also pretty fun. Being a low-budget affair, the film makers wisely chose to utilize those misty fogs and creepy darkness to their advantage when showing the beast and it worked out very well. I’m so, so glad they chose to go the route they did (practical effects), instead of opting for the easy route and using CGI.

In a roundabout way this movie almost reminded me of the classic 70‘s creature-feature, The Prophecy. Not so much the eco-horror aspect, but the whole, Being stalked by a monster while deep in the woods, type of feel.

This is solid popcorn-munching fun right here kids. A modern-day creature-feature with enough twists and turns to keep you glued to your seat to the fun-filled end.
Anchor Bay just seems to have their finger on the pulse of what horror fans are looking for, and The Barrens is the latest example of this. I highly recommend this one to horror fans and lovers of good old fashioned monster movies.

I score it 8 out of 10

*Deleted Scenes & Commentary

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