New Horror Releases: The Barn (2016) - Reviewed

Now available on a 2 disc limited edition DVD set is the 1980’s inspired horror film The Barn, about a group of high schoolers that awaken an evil trio of monsters on the Halloween of 1989 at an old abandoned barn. It is delightfully campy 1980’s horror insanity, which transports you back to those wonderful days of VHS rentals and low budget shot-on-video (SOV) productions. Everything about it completely oozes the era and the genre of the time period, easily being able to pass itself off as a movie that was psychically made in 1989.
The story follows the typical archetype of an 80’s horror picture, blending elements of the occult, demon worship, and the slasher subgenre. This is imagery that you would come to find in Halloween, Children of the Corn, Scarecrow, and the thousands of other movies that sat on the video store shelf. It also features the typical archetypal characters that you would come to find; the virgin, the jock, the promiscuous girl, the leader, his friend, the crazy old man, and an excellent trio of monsters. It also contained specific rules for making it through Halloween, which followed monster rules seen in The Monster Squad, Fright Night, and later on the slasher rules in Scream. It does nicely blend 80’s dialogue, comedic elements, and straight gore practical effects.
The acting is what you would come to expect from a low budget independent horror production, with most of the cast appearing in their first feature length films. That is the unfortunate side effect of working on a low budget, which was partially funded through an Indiegogo campaign. The end result is that most of the performances lacked the true emotional depth that would have pushed their character portrayal up another notch and really added more dimension It was a pleasant surprise to see appearances from scream queen Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons and Return of the Living Dead) and Ari Lehman (Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th).

Director Justin Seaman took on many duties during this production, which is something that is common in low budget independent filmmaking. Including directing, he also was the writer, editor, producer, and actor. One thing that really has to be commended is his ability to achieve the specific look like this was actually released in the 80’s, which included props, set design, practical effects, the score, and specifically the degradation of the film. They were able to add in the spots and other effects that are reminiscent of damage to the film stock over time. This has been used before for motion pictures that are recreating grindhouse and exploitation flicks and it works well in this situation. There is also some decent camera placement and movement throughout that helps create several memorable sequences.
The overall stars of this are the practical effects and score. Practical effects and kill scenes pretty much make or break this type of motion picture and it more than delivers, with a trio of costumed monsters, over 30 kills, gallons of blood, and several outstanding kill sequences. The score from Rocky Gray is absolutely brilliant and it is the ultimate 1980’s horror soundtrack, blending a mostly synthesized score with a mixture of heavy metal songs. There is also a performance from the rockabilly band The Legendary Hucklebucks that occurs during the movie. It could be debated that this style of music doesn’t fit for the era, but I didn’t have an issue with it and quite enjoyed it.
Hmm...Nothing bad could happen if we go in this abandoned barn

This is most likely going to only appeal to a certain niche horror fan, ones that enjoy 80’s low budget horror, the SOV subgenre, or gore. Despite the average acting, it more than delivers on violence and gore and presents a fun trip back to the glorious VHS era.

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