Darren Lynn Bousman directed some of the more watchable Saw sequels and the cult, horror sci-fi rock opera Repo! The Genetic Opera. Since then, his movies just get worse and worse. After his barely okay Mother's Day, I didn't have high hopes for this movie but it still managed to disappoint me. True Blood actor Stephen Moyer stars as an upper middle class family man that drags his wife, teenage daughter, and pre-adolescent son out camping to the same place he used to go with his father. Once they arrive at a heavily populated camp site, he immediately begins acting crazier and crazier but this doesn't seem to concern his family, who agree to follow him even deeper into the woods. Along the way, he is haunted by visions of local legend the Jersey Devil, a man eating demon spawn that supposedly stalks the woods. Not much of The Barrens makes sense and Stephen Moyer's performance is just terrible. He plays the whole film in the same note of crazed, squinting intensity. He rants, pops pills, shoves his kids, and throws jealous temper tantrums at his wife so frequently that he makes Jack Nicholson in The Shining seem balanced. It's completely unbelievable that his family wouldn't be more concerned by his insanity. Mia Kirshner of The Black Dahlia and The L Word and the rest of his family are better, but they're not given enough personality to impress. Erik Knudson, of Scream 4, Saw 2, and Jericho is also great is a supporting role as a skate punk the daughter befriends and he steals every scene he's in but he doesn't have much screen time. Aside from a cool looking creature, which may or may not only exist in the father's imagination, there's not much to The Barrens and it just limps along like a wounded hiker for the first hour. Things pick up in the last 30 minutes but it's too little too late and down ending seems forced and, like the rest of the movie, has some major logic issues. I just really can't recommend this movie to anyone.
A man takes his family on a camping trip and becomes convinced they are being stalked by the legendary monster of the New Jersey Pine Barrens: the Jersey Devil.
May 12, 2020