The Barrens (2012)


I can’t say I’m a big fan of Darren Lynn Bousman’s work.  Never have been a fan of the SAW franchise, and REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA did absolutely nothing for me except to make me wonder what the fuck Sarah Brightman was doing… But I always give his shit a shot.  Throw in a story that features the Jersey Devil and I’m all in.  True Blood’s Stephen Moyer stars alongside TV’s Mia Kirshner as dysfunctional couple Cynthia and Richard Vineyard. They try to rebuild their bond on a trip to the Jersey Pine Barrens to disperse the ashes of Richard’s father.  

Richard is a haunted man.  Bousman also makes sure that he haunts the viewer with flashbacks to Richard’s past.  Richard encountered the Jersey Devil as a youth and for some reason the pull of the Pine Barrens is enough to bring him back.  Spreading his father’s ashes seems to be a pretense for Richard to square off against his old nemesis.   With that ridiculous point made the movie then delves into the horror of a mind in free fall. 

That’s right kiddos.  It goes from creature feature to what is a quite well done character study of a man going crazy in the woods.  It really is better than most “going crazy in the woods” kind of flicks.  It towers above the mostly inept YELLOWBRICKROAD.  You feel for Richard and Cynthia.  You become concerned, even frightened for their children.  

Bousman pulls you right into the film.  The viewer becomes as twisted and confused as Richard but not in a bad way.  It is jarring for sure but does not detract from the viewing at all; if anything it enhances the experience.  My biggest gripe is the same as many.  There is not enough Jersey Devil.  By the time the end rolls around I was a bit more bewildered.  But I still dig this flick.  It’s moody, it’s unflinching and ends up being extremely brutal-maybe even mean spirited.  

Overall I really enjoy this flick. The acting was good, it was well shot and when you get your head around the story it works in its own way. I just feel I was handed a false bill of goods.  Check it out for a good thriller but if you want a creature feature look elsewhere.  

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