Throwback horror, alongside body horror, has become the flavor of rampant VOD garbage much like the zombie subgenre. While there are a few great titles out there, very rarely do you find one that manages to be more than a mundane carbon copy of grindhouse cinema. Justin M. Seaman’s latest horror film, The Barn, manages to capture the essence of 80s schlock cinema and deliver a film that feels like it is part of the era and less of a mid-grade duplication.
Halloween 1959, the town of Wheary Falls is about to become the host of an urban legend surrounding a cursed barn haunted by three slashers, the Boogeyman, Hollow Jack, and the Candy Corn Scarecrow. The film jumps forward thirty years where we meet best friends Sam (Mitchell Musolino) and Josh (Will Stout) as they set out for a final celebration of Devil’s Night, the anniversary of the events prior. While heading to a concert with a group of friends in tow (Lexi Dripps, Cortland Woodard, Nikki Darling, and Nickolaus Joshua), a detour turns deadly as they uncover and resurrect the evil that resides within an old abandoned barn where they seek refuge.
Most of The Barn’s success lies within Seaman’s love and respect for Halloween and its traditions. The character of Sam sets rules of behavior for the holiday which become fascinating for the viewer as well as the supporting cast. The rules, much like Trick ‘r Treat, play into how the characters and villains interact with the world that has been established. The rules become a bit muddled toward the end, but they are fun to see unfold in various ways and they go the extra mile to give such a fantastical film a bit of believability. The majority of the film is spent establishing characters and validity, succeeding at every turn. This is a fun film filled with goofy humor and a true passion for the genre.
The Barn is not a flawless film and certainly carries a mixed bag of goodies. The runtime, for instance, is far too long and many scenes could have been shaved down or removed altogether. Indie horror films rarely understand the importance of a short runtime and instead decide to leave too much in the film which makes it drag and this is certainly no exception. The other annoyance is the cruddy digital effects. While some offer fun enhancements to give the film a classic look, several moments are distracting and take away from the strength of the outstanding practical effects. This is no gore-fest, but there are moments of cringe-worthy violence from some top notch practical work. The finale of the film is a bit rushed, but it is a satisfying conclusion that plays into the film’s 80s feel.
Yes, there are some blemishes, but all in all The Barn is a fantastic rendition of 80s horror that embraces the genre, warts and all. The villains are so expertly executed and designed that seeing the film end is almost a sad occasion. This is a must own for fans pining for the heydays of VHS horror.