The Barn (2016)

Rating: C-

Dir: Justin M. Seaman
Star: Mitchell Musolino, Will Stout, Lexi Dripps, Cortland Woodard

I’m not sure I get the point of trying to make your movie look like it comes from a bygone era. I mean, I love 80’s music. But if I want to listen to it, I’m going to listen to 80’s music, not a contemporary band, trying to sound like they’re from the decade. The same goes for horror movies. There are more than enough great films from that period, for all tastes from the cheesy to the brutal. Trying to mimic the era seems a waste of time and effort to me. That is, more or less what we have here. I can respect the effort which went into this: I just question the purpose.

If begins with a prologue set on Halloween 1959, in the country town of Wheary Falls. Two kids ignore the warnings about avoiding a local barn, and one of them pays the cost, with a Halloween present of a pick-axe to the head. Thirty years later, pals Sam (Musolino) and Josh (Stout) are preparing for their last Halloween before graduating and assuming the boring responsibilities of adulthood. On their way to a rock concert, a supposed short-cut brings them – what are the odds? – to the same barn, and before you can say, “Trick or treat!”, the murderous trio of The Boogeyman, Hallowed Jack and the Candycorn Scarecrow are unleashed and on the rampage once again.

I suspect the biggest problem is the lack of experience in the cast. While Musolino and Stout do have an easy rapport, and you do get the sense of them having been friends for a long time, their individual performances are never convincing as a whole. The same goes for most of the cast, whose efforts are enthusiastic rather than effective. Even Linnea Quigley, the only real “name” actor, looks rather ill at ease – perhaps because she’s playing against type, in her role of the local church lady, who regards celebrating Halloween as one step this side of human sacrifice. The pacing could also use some tightening up, especially in the early stages. After the pick-axe meets head moment, not much then happens, for a bit too long.

Must say, the reliance on practical effects is laudable, even if the execution is a little variable in quality. The best element might be Hallowed Jack, whose pumpkin head is lit up from inside by flames, and looks nicely creepy as a result (top). A lot of the carnage is concentrated at the local “Halloween Hootenanny”, though even here, this seems to be as much a showcase for a band called The Legendary Hucklebucks – presumably mates of the director – as anything. This is still likely the most memorable sequence. It’s telling that the YouTube advert for Dr. Torpor, which interrupted the first few minutes, was the most entertaining part of the viewing. Clearly, Seaman has a deep affection for video horror from the 80’s. I do too. Now, where’s my copy of Re-Animator?