Barn, The (2016)
Starring Mitchell Musolino, Will Stout, Lexi Dripps, Ari Lehman, Linnea Quigley
Directed by Justin M. Seaman
I had the pleasure of attending the UK premiere of Justin M. Seaman’s The Barn, and I can safely say that this film needs to be on the top of your watch list.
The plot is pretty standard Halloween-set horror fare. A bunch of teens celebrating what will likely be their last night of trick or treating together before they graduate high school and go their separate ways accidentally summon a bunch of demons who want to raise Hell on Earth. So yeah, not much out of the ordinary as far as the plot’s concerned, but it’s in the area of execution where The Barn really soars.
They’d set out to make a homage to ’80s horror cinema. No secrets there. But perhaps “homage” is too soft a word because The Barn literally feels like a product of the time. Everything from the cheesy gore practicals to the even cheesier 2D animated lightning bolt effects seem like they were pulled straight from the decade that also bought us A Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead II, and other genre classics. There’s even a beautiful, almost dreamlike shot of the moon slowly rising over a group of costumed trick or treaters that could have come straight out of a Dario Argento picture.
The three demons themselves are pretty cool, even though there isn’t really much that sets them apart, although one wields a pickaxe and another uses a scythe, so that counts for something I guess. Regarding the human characters, we get the usual cliched crazy old guy whom nobody listens to but who was right all along, the parents who want their kids to grow up and make them proud, etc. And call me crazy, but does every film really have to have a romantic subplot that goes nowhere and a scene where the two best friends argue and split up, only to later apologize and make up? Again, pretty standard fare in these departments.
But all things aside, The Barn feels like a breath of fresh air in an age where big studios see fit to remake classic horror films with a hundred times the budget. I think it’s a fair assessment that the people behind the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street had no love of the original or the genre in itself, but Seaman has shown us that a little bit of appreciation can sure go a long way. I literally didn’t exist in the ’80s, but now I kind of wish I had.