The Barn, written and directed by Justin M. Seaman, is a throwback to the supernatural slashers of the 80s and is presented as if it is actually one of them. Much like movies such as Arthur Cullipher’s Headless or, more famously, Ti West’s House of the Devil, the movie strives to not only pay homage to a bygone era, but to actually appear as though it came from one. It’s a growing trend, and The Barn does its job with varying degrees of success.
The Barn is set on Halloween 1989 and tells the story of a group of demons who take the form of a miner, a “candy corn scarecrow”, and a Jack-o’-lantern-head guy (pictured). They are part of a creepy town legend that we know from the intro is more than just a legend. A group of teens who head out for a night of trick-or-treating and partying at the titular barn also find out how real the legend is–and mayhem ensues.
There’s plenty of gore here, and it looks pretty good. We’re not talking about a non-stop gorefest, but the level feels appropriate. The music is kind of all over the place, but generally fits.
For the most part, The Barn is entertaining and does a good job of looking like the kind of movie it’s trying to be. At times, it does feel like it was ripped right out of the 80s. The prologue in particular sets the mood just right. As time goes on; however, some of its modern seams show through just a bit, and the movie feels more like a tribute to the 80s than a movie actually from the 80s. This is most evident in the apparent stunt casting of horror icons Linnea Quigley and Ari Lehman, who seem to have little purpose in the movie other than to have Linnea Quigley and Ari Lehman in the movie.
Lehman’s screen time in particular, which sees the original Jason Voorhees actor playing a television horror host and interviewing an 80s rock band, took me out of the movie a bit and made me nervous about how the rest of it was going to play, but thankfully this was pretty early on, and there wasn’t too much more of that kind of thing. To be fair, it’s not that different than what did happen in the actual 80s movie Trick or Treat with cameos from Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons, whose bit parts would be used to sell the movies for decades. And if I’m being honest, if I were making a movie like The Barn and had a chance to cast Linnea Quigley and Ari Lehman, I probably would have taken it too. I just wish it felt a little more organic.
Beyond that, there are nods to various 80s movies sprinkled throughout that, again, make The Barn feel more tribute than artifact at times, and at the end of the day, that’s what it is anyway. A tribute. It’s like watching a good cover band. They know how to play the songs well, but it’s not quite the same as the real thing. I do think that with some edits, The Barn could have the real potential to feel more like a movie actually from the time, and losing five to ten minutes of unneeded scenes could improve the pacing significantly.
Despite its issues, The Barn is pretty fun. All the monster stuff is handled in an entertaining way, and I can definitely see revisiting it in October, perhaps with a few drinks.
You can pick up the movie on DVD or VHS here. In fact, there’s a lot of cool merchandise you can pick up; from an NES-style video game and action figures to the soundtrack on vinyl, CD, and cassette.