Review: THE BARN (2016)

Halloween 1959, a little boy and girl ignore the warnings about trick or treating at a local farm, with bloody results. Thirty years later, a group of teens heading to a concert stumble across the same barn and accidentally unleash the evil inside it. That’s the basic premise of Justin M. Seaman’s debut film, THE BARN.

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Set in 1989, Sam (Mitchell Musolino 10/31) and Josh (Will Stout, DON’T LOOK BACK), decide to have one final epic Halloween before graduation and college separates them. An announcement on Dr. Rock’s (Ari Lehman FRIDAY THE 13th, TERROR TALES) show that Demon Inferno will be playing a surprise gig nearby sets everything in motion. Already in trouble for pranking Ms. Barnhart (Linnea Quigley, NECROLOGIESHOOKER WITH A HACKSAW) on Devil’s Night, they gather up a group of friends and hit the road.

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Stopping to party, they find an old deserted barn. For laughs, play out one of Sam’s Halloween rhymes. Of course, it actually works, and they awaken the three demons sleeping in the barn, The Boogeyman, Hallowed Jack, and The Candycorn Scarecrow. Now they have to stay alive long enough to figure out what these creatures want. And how to send them back to Hell.

As you can probably tell from the setting, THE BARN is another retro film, and it shows from the start. The production company’s logo looks like something you would see on an old VHS. There’s grain and scratches like you’d see on a film from the era, too. Not the absurd amount in the faux grindhouse films, but a pretty good approximation of what you’d see on a film from Avco-Embassy or Jensen-Farley.

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And that’s what THE BARN resembles. One of the delightfully gory indies from one of the mini-majors of the time. This could easily have played on a double bill with THE BOOGENS or PHANTASM with its high energy and wonderfully gory kills. Wonderfully gory kills rendered in practical effects. Even the cheesy looking energy flashes the creatures give off at times are hand-animated, not CGI rendered.

Some of the usual complaints do apply. The actors look too old for the parts, and the group has all the usual, totally diverse members. The ones you wonder how they ended up hanging out together in the first place. But by now most genre fans should be used to this. A few of the twists won’t be a huge surprise, even if the script does keep them from being obvious. In short, while it doesn’t reinvent the genre, it is a great addition to it. And one that may well become a regular part of your Halloween viewing.

THE BARN is available on HULU, iTunes and other streaming platforms from Terror Films.

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