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The Barrens
BLU-RAY disk
10.18.2012 By: Stephanie Cooke
The Barrens order download
Director:
Darren Lynn Bousman

Actors:
Stephen Moyer
Mia Kirshner
Allie MacDonald

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A man takes his family on a camping trip and becomes convinced they are being stalked by the legendary monster of the New Jersey Pine Barrens: the Jersey Devil.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?

This is another one of those reviews where Iím not entirely sure where to begin. I had never heard of THE BARRENS before until it popped up on my doorstep. The film stars True Bloodís Stephen Moyer using his regular English accent. I donít know why thatís relevant but it felt right to say, so deal with it. It follows the story of a family on a camping trip that theyíre taking to spend some quality time with one another. Right off the bat, theyíre setting things up to end pretty badly for this family. We get to see another couple camping in THE BARRENS and we donít ever find out what actually happened to them. The filmmakers have left it very open-ended as far as whether the Jersey Devil actually exists in this film or not.

Usually the suspense is kind of a good thing and helps to mess with your mind a bit and add to the psychological aspect of the film. However, in this case I think it was a bit more of a detriment to the film as a whole. People are slowly going missing and one characterís sanity appears to be degrading as the film progresses. Basically weíre left wondering if thereís a monster in the woods or a monster among us. Itís not really a horror film, but much more of a psychological slow burn mixed with a bit of thriller.

I donít think Stephen Moyer is a bad actor, but during THE BARRENS he comes across as doing the best he can with what heís been given. The rest of the cast doesnít give off that vibe. Mia Kirshner, who plays Moyerís wife in the film, as well as the young actors that portray the children, really shows their lack of experience in the film. Theyíre not terrible, but they rely heavily on over-exaggerated facial expressions to convey their emotions throughout. That might be fine for stage performances but for a film when all of that really shows up, it left me feeling rather meh about the whole thing.

The story idea isnít completely awful, but thereís a lot of build-up for a film that doesnít have much payoff.

THE EXTRAS

Deleted Scene: Note the singular tense of this feature. Included as a bonus is a scene that was cut from the final film. Itís basically an epilogue to the ending that we were given and gives us a bit of closure as to what happened to the kids. Itís a pretty lengthy scene that gives the film a bit more of an interesting twist. I can definitely understand why it was cut though.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I donít know if I can really recommend this movie to anyone. It doesnít strike me as something that would be enjoyable as a joke with friends and it doesnít really sit well with me as a movie that I watched on my own. Itís not the worst movie that Iíve ever seen, but itís not something that I can call it good either. The best I can say for it is rent itÖ but only if nothing else better is available to watch.
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11:39PM on 10/18/2012
@The Jake... I completely agree! Everything you said was exactly right. Don't waste your time with this movie, it was completely stupid! I love ALL of Bousmann's movies and was so excited for this but it was a HUGE letdown! I tried so hard the entire movie to ignore the god-awful decisions the characters were making that NOONE would ever choose to make. I tried to tell myself the entire film that it really was not a boring movie and that the ending will make up for all the flaws... well
@The Jake... I completely agree! Everything you said was exactly right. Don't waste your time with this movie, it was completely stupid! I love ALL of Bousmann's movies and was so excited for this but it was a HUGE letdown! I tried so hard the entire movie to ignore the god-awful decisions the characters were making that NOONE would ever choose to make. I tried to tell myself the entire film that it really was not a boring movie and that the ending will make up for all the flaws... well unfortunately my hopes were completely crushed! It kills me to say this about a Bousmann film, but avoid this at all cost! Even if you see it on TV one day... change the channel!
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10:57AM on 10/18/2012

Spoilers Below!

I'm not sure if you actually watched this film or if you're just reviewing the synopsis of it. The filmmakers did NOT leave it open-ended, whatsoever, as to whether the NJ Devil exists. Let's see: the Park Ranger saw it AND the police officer got eaten by it, after shrieking like a 10 year old girl because he saw the thing first. Oh, and Cynthia also saw it, which is why she says "I'm sorry" to Richard (Stephen Moyer) before the NJ Devil attacks him at the end. So yeah, it's left up to
I'm not sure if you actually watched this film or if you're just reviewing the synopsis of it. The filmmakers did NOT leave it open-ended, whatsoever, as to whether the NJ Devil exists. Let's see: the Park Ranger saw it AND the police officer got eaten by it, after shrieking like a 10 year old girl because he saw the thing first. Oh, and Cynthia also saw it, which is why she says "I'm sorry" to Richard (Stephen Moyer) before the NJ Devil attacks him at the end. So yeah, it's left up to interpretation for most of the movie, until the end, when it's made extremely clear that the NJ Devil does exist and seriously wants to mess up Richard. All of that said, it's not a very good movie for the same reason that a lot of horror movies aren't very good: the characters make ridiculous, inexplicable decisions that no rational person would make. Richard gets bit by his foaming-at-the-mouth dog, but doesn't do anything about it? Doesn't seek medical attention? His wife has several days, if not a week, to see the bite mark on his arm but never notices it? AFTER a camper goes missing and the Vineyard family sees a deer that was ripped apart, Richard decides to take the family DEEPER into the woods? They come across an abandoned campsite with witchcraft tokens hanging from trees and a dead dog tied to a post and decide THIS IS A GOOD PLACE TO CAMP? Cmon, man. This writing is extraordinarily bad and frankly, the NJ Devil and its mythology deserve better.
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