It’s Halloween 1989, best friends Sam and Josh are trying to enjoy what’s left of their final Devil’s Night before graduating high school. But trouble arises when the two pals and a group of friends take a detour on their way to a rock concert, finding an old abandoned barn and awakening the evil inside. Now it’s up to Sam and Josh to find a way to protect their friends and defeat the creatures that lurk within “The Barn”.
Nostalgia for the 1980s in horror is commonplace these days. Those who grew up with the movies of that golden age of genre cinema are the filmmakers of today, and love letters to the films which inspired them is a favoured trait amongst contemporary auteurs. This brought us a nostalgia-drenched pop culture phenomenon that was Stranger Things, but it wasn’t the only retro homage to arrive and transport us back to the glory days. Justin M. Seaman’s slasher The Barn is one of the most surprising gems to come along in recent memory, and it’s going to solidify its place as annual Halloween viewing in many a horror buff’s household for years to come.
The Barn opens with the greatest opening scene ever and that’s no exaggeration. I won’t spoil what it is, but from the get go you know that this isn’t a movie that’s afraid to pull punches, but not in a way that’s disturbing. Horror thrives when it has fun at the expense of good taste and taboo subject matter, and The Barn gets going with a perfect slice of macabre entertainment that won’t go unnoticed; some will cheer, others will be upset by it, but it will elicit a response. That said, it isn’t depicted in a way which feels mean spirited either; The Barn will charm its way into the hearts of slasher fans from the moment its tangible atmosphere draws you in within the opening seconds.
There are certain movies which are made for Halloween viewing, and The Barn is very much of this ilk. With its unique haunting lore to its irresistibly spooky mood, this is the type of film which was made for the sole purpose of giving audiences the next annual event movie. In recent years, filmmakers have given us odes to the occasion with the likes of Tales of Halloween and All Hallows’ Eve, but The Barn is the first to come along since Michael Dougherty’s Trick r’ Treat which feels like a certified cult classic.
I can’t recommend this movie enough. While it’s bound to feel most effective at the time of year where the trees are bare and the nights are imbued with that October feeling, it’s still one of the most enjoyable movies in quite some time which will go down a treat any time. It has everything a great hack n’ slash should have – a back story, wonderful villains, great kills, effective scares and a ghoulish sense of humour. And if you like the film and want more of it in your life, there’s even a video game to further satisfy for slasher needs.
Words: Kieran Fisher (@Hair_Everywhere)