I wish more effort was made with horror movies. They are quite possibly the most exploited and underrated genre of movie; and yet perhaps more movies than any other are added to their collections. So, when I found The Barrens to be pleasingly not-completely-awful, this certainly doesn’t detract from having found a decent movie, but it must be kept in mind that this is compared to the standard the rest of this genre has sadly sunk to recently.
The Barrens features the Vineyard family, who leave to take a camping trip in the woods of New Jersey. The main figures are patriarch Richard (Moyer) and wife Cynthia (Kirshner). Once there, Richard seems to start acting unpredictably, and together with this, rumors of the fabled Jersey Devil monster are running wild in the campsites.
This plot outline sounds more predictable than it is, and The Barrens does a good job of mixing up what you think you know and questioning it against new evidence until you’re not even sure who’s real anymore. The boxart proudly proclaims this to be from the director of Saw II, III and IV, and despite other criticisms, those movies do have interlocking plots that connect and intersect in unusual ways. Some of that energy and creativity has been brought to this film.
The Barrens suffers mostly from being too long; it drags out its points to boredom sometimes. Despite this, I do recommend watching it with a group of friends, and the guessing games you can take part in together can last throughout the entire movie almost.