The Barn is an absolutely great Halloween horror movie, a new genre classic that is destined to become essential annual viewing every October.
I was lucky enough to get to see The Barn twice last year before its release on DVD, first at a private screening after it was submitted to our own Halloween International Film Festival and again with an audience at the festival itself, where it would go on to win awards for Best Halloween Film and Best Feature Film, and I loved it even more after the second viewing, ranking it sky high on the infinitely important rewatchability meter.
Set on Halloween night in 1989, writer and director Justin Seaman more than succeeds in coating the entire film in retro-styled Halloween atmosphere that recalls its time period era, and evokes many of the warmest childhood memories of our favorite holiday, perfectly. Seaman proves to be a talented new voice with this highly satisfying first feature, and I definitely can’t wait to see what tricks he has in store next with his segment in the upcoming Halloween-themed horror anthology 10/31.
Probably my favorite thing about The Barn is how much fun it is, following two pals navigating through what is likely their last Halloween before becoming “adults” and encountering an old curse that forces them to rely on everything they learned as wide-eyed horror loving kids in order to make it to another day.
Mitchell Musolino and Will Stout are great as Sam and Josh, respectively, one of which (Sam) doesn’t ever want to outgrow the magic of Halloween, while the other (Josh) is getting grownup life forced on him. They have great chemistry that definitely rings true of a lifelong friendship that has reached a crossroads at a new stage in life.
Sam has even developed his own set of rules for Halloween, some of which will be familiar to you but all of which you will surely start quoting soon.
Lexi Dripps is also especially good as Michelle, the cool girl who has Sam’s heart, and it’s not hard to see why with her down to Earth approachability and killer good looks, but it’s her maturity in keeping the guys in check that solidifies her as a vital part of the team.
Ari Lehman, who played the original young Jason Voorhees in the first Friday the 13th film, has a fun cameo appearance as a local TV show host named Dr. Rock, as does one of our all time favorite scream queens, the great Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons, Return of the Living Dead, Silent Night Deadly Night), who plays the nagging Mrs. Barnhart.
Colored in a blood orange haze from seasonal lighted decorations, the cinematography by Zane Hershberger is gloriously grainy to complete the vintage feeling that you’re watching a VHS tape, and no part of the frame is ever wasted but rather every inch is used to further deepen the holiday vibes, while the score by Rocky Gray rocks hard with ’80s-style metal that perfectly captures the mood set by the visuals.
And I haven’t even gotten into the legend of the Barn itself, which goes back decades and introduces three unique new horror icons in the laughing Candycorn Scarecrow, the avenger of smashed pumpkins Hallowed Jack, and the deadly pickaxe-wielding former miner known simply as The Boogeyman.
The gore is mostly minimal, but it creates a sharper jolt of violence when it does strike as such, and the special effects are delightfully practical and old school, just as it would have been if the movie was made around the year it takes place.
Endlessly entertaining, the film is a flashback to the glory days of rollerskating rinks, rock concerts, and cheap plastic masks, sucking you in and taking you for a ride back to your fondest jack-o-lantern lit memories. It’s a rare feature that knows exactly what it is and embraces its tone fully, basking in autumn and begging for repeat viewings.
Much more than just a throwback horror slasher, The Barn opens up a whole new mythology built around Halloween, and in doing so, it reminds us of why we fell in love with it all in the first place.
official rating: 5 out of 5 stars
My favorite time of the year is the haunting season and every September I begin to get antsy while looking at the calendar and counting down the days to October 1st. Like most of you I’ve been sweating the end of summer heat and begging for something to take me away to the cherished burning leaf smell of October. Thank the dark lords for Justin M. Seaman’s The Barn.
Set on Halloween in 1989, The Barn is a love letter to everything that there is to love and fear on Halloween night. The movie opens with a flashback sequence to Halloween 1959 and the community of Wheary Falls is in full on Halloween celebratory mode. The kids gather at the local church for a word from the pastor and are then off to the local harvest hootenanny. Of course, two kids can’t follow the All Hallows Eve rules which include staying away from a certain barn. Flash forward thirty years and we’re thrown full force into the world of Sam and Josh, two seventeen year old’s who live for Halloween and all the joys it brings. Sam (Mitchell Musolino) is the embodiment of everyone who builds haunts in their parent’s garages and basks in the offerings of the holiday. Josh (Will Stout) is his lifelong best friend who since the loss of his father earlier in the year hasn’t really been the same. After one of their pranks on Ms. Barnhart played by scream queen Linnea Quigley goes too far the boys are faced with the realization that this is the last year of unabashed Halloween fun that they will ever get to have. When their favorite metal band announces on the local rock show hosted by Dr. Rock (Ari Lehman in a fantastic cameo) that they are performing a special Halloween night concert, Sam and Josh decide that they have no choice but to go to the concert and cement themselves as local Halloween legends.
They gather up some friends and hit the road bound for the concert. After taking a shortcut they end up in Wheary Falls and smack dab in front of the titular Barn that holds legendary evils. Being a horror movie set on Halloween you know the demons will be unleashed on this group of teenagers as well as the unsuspecting townsfolk. The aftermath of which will never be forgotten by those that live to tell the tale. There are countless horror films set on Halloween, very few actually capture and imbue the spirit the way The Barn does. Justin M. Seaman brilliantly captures every minute detail from the brilliant script and set design to the amazing soundtrack of the film that really transports you into proceedings. The cast are all brilliant and play the parts to the tilt. Lexi Dripps portrayal of Michelle is one of the best girl next door type performances that I’ve seen in the genre in quite a while and ranks up there with Phoebe Cates in Gremlins. The demons that terrorize our protagonists are a perfect mesh of 80’s kitsch and old school monster magazine masks. I can easily see these villains becoming popular Halloween costumes for years to come. The cast and crew of The Barn put everything they had into creating a film that will bring the Halloween spirit into your heart at any time of the year and honestly that’s all that we as horror fans can ask for. The Barn is now playing on the festival circuit. It comes with my highest recommendation.
‘The Barn’ – A Wonderful Throwback To 80s’ Horror!BY RYAN T. CUSICK ON
“Trick-Or-Treat Smell My Feet!”
From the very beginning introduction “Nevermore Production Films” logo, The Barn is an excellent callback to 80s horror and the first few minutes of the film alone is a loyal devotion to the Halloween holiday. The film is set in the year 1989, and Justin M. Seaman along with his team did an extraordinary job of keeping true to the era, the film looks as though it was shot a few decades ago. Everything about this movie screams to an era that I grew up in, and it was unbelievable. Adding to the magical nostalgia of the film are appearances by Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons) and Ari Lehman (Jason Voorhees from Friday The 13th). As a bonus, the score was composed by Rocky Gray, and it was an impressive puzzle piece to movie’s existence. The songs on the soundtrack include “Mr. Cool,” I immediately recognized from Full Moon’s Bad Channels back in 1992.
Even with a limited budget, The Barn delivers some impressive death sequences that will make your head turn in disgust. Throats are cut open, heads are crushed, and people are stabbed, everything is done physically in front of the camera, no CGI to disappoint the moviegoers. The design of the demons was unbelievably imaginative and creepy, to say the least. Justin M. Seaman created not only a story that was interesting, but a story that showed off is knowledge and passion for 80s horror.
Before viewing The Barn I was deeply concerned that I was going to be faced with a parody, I assure you this is no parody, and I am thankful for that.Quick-Witted and full of fun, The Barn is more than just another low-budget horror film, and will not be forgotten, in fact, this will be a film traditionally watched by many during the Halloween season. The Barn is a must see, you won’t be sorry!
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