Darren Lynn Bousman
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.
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.