The Barrens Blu-Ray Review (Kirk Haviland)

The Barrens Blu-Ray

Starring Stephen Moyer, Mia Kirshner, Allie MacDonald, Peter DaCunha, Erik Knudson, Chantelle Chung, David Keeley and Shawn Ashmore

Written and Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

New this week to DVD and Blu-Ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment comes The Barrens. This take on the classic campfire stories that have dominated family camping outings for decades comes from the enigmatic Darren Lynn Bousman, more known for his inconsistency than any one film in particular. So what does the director of Saw 2-4, the divisive Repo, The Genetic Opera and the outright abysmal 11-11-11 have in store for us this time?

It’s known as the Jersey Devil, the long rumoured winged beast spawned 400 years ago, supposedly by Satan himself. The stories claim it came about after a woman known as Mother Leeds had 13 children, but she offered up the 13th child to the Devil as a sacrifice. Some say this creature still inhabits the dense pine forests of southern New Jersey, where Richard Vineyard (Moyer) takes his family for a rustic weekend camping trip so he can spread his father’s ashes where he camped as a child. As the Vineyard family ventures further into the woods in search of the perfect campsite, at Richard’s behest, we see that Richard may have a hidden agenda, as his grip on reality starts to slip away. It would appear The Jersey Devil may not just be a story for Richard. With his paranoia growing he manages to put everyone he loves, wife Cynthia (Kirshner), daughter Sadie (MacDonald) and son Danny (DaCunha) in real danger. But when Sadie’s friend Ryan (Knudsen) goes missing, Richard is convinced it’s the work of the Jersey Devil. But is the legend of the Jersey Devil real, or is it just another of Richard’s growing delusions?

The Barrens is a low budget indie horror that wears this fact proudly on its sleeve. Using cost effective locations like the forest and a minimal amount of Computer Generated Images (CGI), using the practical effect of a man in a rubber suit for the Devil, you can see how the production was able to come in at a reasonable cost. Getting Moyer, straight off of HBO’s True Blood, is probably one of the most costly expenditures the production had. And Moyer was definitely wise choice, for the 85% of the film where he is allowed to show some range and depth he does well, but it really falls apart for Moyer towards the end. The beginning is actually quite slow, so thankfully we have Moyer there, but as the films ramps up the writing for Richard gets more tedious and ridiculous. The rest of the cast are decent enough, Kirshner may have been coasting a bit in parts and the kids aren’t going to win any awards in the near future, but their work is solid enough. The script is hardly original, the cursed creature in the woods attacking people, is it real or just the paranoid guy’s mind, we’ve seen this before. This time around it works, for periods at a time, but not the whole way through. When the Devil attacks come (when the CGI creeps in) it looks like a Scy-Fi network film. And the suit looks great on angular shots, but very underwhelming in up front shots.

For Blu-Ray extras we get barely anything here, an audio commentary with director Darren Lynn Bousman and director of photography Joseph White and a trailer.

Overall The Barrens is much like eating at a buffet, not all the offerings look appetizing and others leave a bad taste in the mouth, and you usually leave full but not 100% satisfied. While I cannot endorse a buy, a late night cheapie rental may be in order. The Barrens gets a very mild recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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