The Barn (2016)
the barn | justin m. seaman | mitchell musolino | will stout | lexi dripps | slasher | supernatural | period piece | comedy | united states | cortland woodard | nikki howell | nickolaus joshua | linnea quigley | ari lehman | ryan nogy | david hampton | james weldon
Film: The Barn
Director: Justin M. Seaman
Writer: Justin M. Seaman
Starring: Mitchell Musolino, Will Stout and Lexi Dripps
This is a movie that I heard about thanks to horror movie podcasts. From what I remember, it was mostly positive things about it and it went on a list of movies to check out. This is one that I decided to view this since I’m going to Nightmares Film Festival where the sequel is making a premiere. I wanted to make sure I was up on it ahead of seeing that.
Synopsis: it’s Halloween 1989, best friends Sam (Mitchell Musolino) and Josh (Will Stout) try to enjoy what’s left of their final Devil’s Night before graduating high school. Trouble arises when the two pals and a group of friends take a detour on their way to a rock concert, finding an abandoned barn and awakening the evil inside.
We start in the town of Wheary Falls back in 1959. We see a church and inside, the minister getting his congregation ready for Halloween. There is a party and he is trying to keep anyone listening away from a nearby barn. We see a girl smiling at her friend. They go out to this barn and awaken the evil, killing her. The boy flees.
It then shifts to the present of the movie, which is 1989. It is Devil’s Night. Sam and Josh have an attraction where they scare kids. This draws the new minister, a Ms. Barnhart (Linnea Quigley). She scolds them and when Josh scares her, she calls Sam’s father. He is irate with Sam, to the point where he is grounded and now must spend Halloween collecting items for the church instead of going to trick or treat.
Things all change when these friends go to the local skating rink. Working there is their friend Russell (Nickolaus Joshua). He alerts them that Michelle (Lexi Dripps) is also working. Sam likes her but scared to make a move. Josh tries to help, while embarrassing them both. The friends sit down and watch a local access channel that features Dr. Rock (Ari Lehman). He reveals that tomorrow, a metal band playing a hometown concert. Sam comes up with a plan to go. Michelle joins them and Josh invites her, under the guise that Sam is asking. They also ask their friend Chris (Cortland Woodard), who has a van. His girlfriend, Nikki (Nikki Howell) comes along as well.
The route that they go, they come across a sign for Death Falls. They take that and find the barn from the beginning. The group camps out there, waiting for night to fall. The plan is to go into town, trick or treat, then go to the concert. They build a fire and have drinks as they wait. Sam reveals his rules of Halloween to the group while they play truth or dare. On his turn, he is tasked with knocking on the door to the barn and to ask trick or treat. In doing so he wakes up the three demons.
These three are The Boogeyman, who is a miner. There is Hollow Jack that has a pumpkin for a head and can use jack-o-lanterns to see. The last one is Candy Corn Scarecrow, which can control the nearby corn fields and other plants. It is a fight for survival as they go out into the night to collect bodies to eat.
That should be enough recap of the story and introducing the characters. Where I want to start is that this is a supernatural slasher film. We get that classic set up for it. This starts with the kill of a child, which I wasn’t expecting. That sets the tone. From there, we get are getting a modern take on an 80’s slasher. I’ve come to realize that I’m not the biggest fan of this subgenre, but I do enjoy ones that are well done.
There are certain things that I look for these. This falls in as one of those movies that have been coming out as being set in the 80s. I was born in 87 but grew up with the movies of that era for the most part. I’m glad this movie was subtle with the approach. It isn’t in your face. There are things like them going to roller rink or the show that Dr. Rock is on. I settle in with what the movie is doing without being hit over the head that this is supposed to be the past so that is good. That was something I can appreciate.
Now I want to delve into what makes for a good slasher for me. First would have to be the killer. This one is a bit different that we have three. I like the look of all three killers. The only issue I have is with Hollow Jack, who has CGI fire in his eyes. Going along with them are the kills. This sets the tone by starting off with one. We do get a lull to set up the characters and get them to where they need to. Once the kills start again, we don’t go too long without getting to the next. I can appreciate that. What is interesting is that I saw trivia saying that this was inspired by video games that are known as ‘side scrollers’. I can see that as well. These are ones where you defeat your enemies until you go to the next screen. That describes this movie well as things pick up.
Since I’ve said the kills are a big part of a slasher, I’ll go to the effects. They went practical with this and I loved that. The blood and gore we get looked good. They did what they could to get as many variations on the kills as they could, which also works. I’ll even pull in the cinematography here. I think how this is shot works. One gripe I have is the filter that is on the lens. It adds intentional grain. That doesn’t work for me since I know that isn’t real. It doesn’t ruin the movie but hurts it slightly.
Another part of slashers are the characters. They aren’t great, but they work. Since the kills are and our villains are the focal, that is fine. Musolino and Stout are solid as our two leads. I liked Dripps. She does disappear for stretches, but she also isn’t the main character. I did find her cute. Other than that, I thought Woodard, Howell and Joshua rounded out that friend group. It was fun to have cameos by Quigley and Lehman. The rest of the cast around them is fine. I will say that the acting is amateur, but that adds the charm of slashers of the past.
The last thing to go over would be the soundtrack. I’ll be honest, I loved it. It adds to the tension and the atmosphere. There are also times where we get music that sounds close to metal music. This isn’t usually what I listen to, but I liked what they did with it. The score is one of the strongest parts of this for sure. I did have issue with the dialogue though. It can be stiff at times, but that’s not the problem. It just sounds off. Almost like it was recorded in a tunnel. This doesn’t ruin the movie, but something that stuck out.
In conclusion, this is a fun take on an 80’s supernatural slasher. The look of the killers is interesting for the most part. I like the mythology they set up and things that get revealed as we go. The effects of the kills are good. The only issue I had was CGI with the fire for Hollow Jack. The soundtrack here is great. I think that the acting is amateur but works for what was needed. The only other issue is with how the recording of the dialogue sounded. This is a fun film in my opinion.
My Rating: 7 out of 10