The Barn Part II (2022)

Rating: B

Dir: Justin M. Seaman
Star: Lexi Dripps, Sable Griedel, Mitchell Musolino, Chad Bruns

A few years have passed since the horrific events of The Barn, but the town of Helen’s Valley still lives under the shadow of that night. Sam (Musolino) and Josh vanished without a trace, leaving Michelle (Dripps) the sole survivor. She has moved on, at least somewhat, with her life and is now at the local college; she’s also an active member of the Gamma Tau Psi sorority. They put her in charge of their annual Halloween haunted house, taking place off-campus after there were… “issues” last year, so with faithful sidekick Heather (Griedel) in tow, the scary residence is built and the party started. You will be unsurprised to hear, this leads to the resurrection of The Boogeyman, Hallowed Jack and the Candycorn Scarecrow, for another night of slaughter.

This is a palpable improvement on its predecessor, in just about every way.. It simply feels like everyone involved has six years more experience than they did the first time round, and the results are all the better for it. A major plus is this now feels like its own movie, rather than shamelessly trying to mimic 80’s slasher horror. Outside of a (rather pointless) scene in a video store – kids, ask your parents! – there is hardly anything here that actually pins it down to a specific era. It’s actually supposed to be the early 90’s; it could just as well be last October, in most regards. This includes the soundtrack, which no longer had me wanting to change the channel.

I do wonder if the likes of Terrifier had an influence. as this seems considerably more gleefully sadistic than its predecessor. There’s also significantly more nudity, an element combined on occasion with the gore. The sequel definitely does a better job of integrating its celebrity cameos, including Doug Bradley (who makes a comment about “raising hell”, sad to say), Lloyd Kaufman, and a delightful scene with Joe-Bob Briggs, as the owner of the local drive-in naturally. But I think top marks go to Linnea Quigley, returning as local puritan Sara Barnhart. Except. at the end she goes full Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, wielding a chainsaw to gory effect (top). Quigley is now aged 64, and on the basis of this, deserves to be considered one of horror’s grande dames, alongside the likes of Lynn Lowry and Lin Shaye.

As the cast list makes clear, turns out Sam isn’t quite as dead as everyone thought. It ends up being him and Michelle, more or less, who have to figure out a way to dispatch the Unholy Trinity to hell. Oddly, before we get there, it seems to slide sideways into a zombie flick for a bit. Given the opportunities for carnage this provides, I’m inclined to let it slide without too many questions. This is a throwback, in the sense it’s pure entertainment, without an “elevated” thought in its empty little head, and is all the better for being so.