THE BARN – Movie Review (and so much fucking more!!!)

 

 

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THE BARN
• RELEASE DATE: Coming Soon (Click Here For the Latest Info)
• WRITTEN BY: Justin M. Seaman
• DIRECTED BY: Justin M. Seaman
• STARRING: Mitchell Musolino, Will Stout, Lexi Dripps

 

-Reviewed by Daniel XIII
I can’t think of a recent fright flick that I have been more on the edge of my sinister seat to feast my eerie eyeballs upon than THE BARN. Ever since I saw the first trailer I have been enamored with (what appears to be) a loving pastiche to all things ‘80’s slasher. Well because I’m Daniel XIII, and I command a hearse load of respect in the horror biz I was afforded a sneak peek at the flick (I.e. I begged incessantly until the makers of THE BARN gave me a screener to shut me the hell up). Does it live up to my expectations? Seriously, You honestly expect me to answer that in the first paragraph of this revoltin’ review?

 
Anyway, the plot of THE BARN goes as follows; Sam and Josh, two high school seniors with a serious aversion to acting their age, decide to set up a makeshift haunt based on a tragedy that occurred years previous; namely the wholesale murder of some kids by a trio of ghastly ghouls who reside in an old barn. Well as fate would have it, our heroes (and some tag-a-long pals) take a detour on their way to check out some rock and/or roll and end up in the real deal Barn where they promptly awaken the trio of terror!

 
I really don’t know where to start with THE BARN. Let’s try this; you know how you watch all of those “homages” to ‘80’s slashers and they get all smirky and tongue-in-(ass) cheek with their hipster “isn’t it funny because those old flicks were so bad” aesthetic, instead of just going for the same fun and cheesy vibe that made our beloved classics so…beloved? Well, THE BARN sticks that fucking landing, let me tell ya! This thing is EXACTLY what you want it to be; full of monsters, mayhem, sweet practical gore, rockin’ tunes, and most importantly; heart and a genuine love of the horror biz! Not for nothing, the film also manages to present three totally unique, and uber-iconic demon slashers for us to love and obsess over (and for real, these dudes deserve Funko Pop Vinyls or ReAction figs pron-fuckin’-to)!

 
Also in the plus column for this flick; the actors are really solid, the flick hums along at a brisk pace, vand the soundtrack…that fucking soundtrack…it’s absolutely perfect, and I kinda want it playing as the soundtrack to my life (because sitting on a couch watching horror flicks while writing what passes for a review column deserves the most hard rockin’ tunes imaginable)! In short, writer/director Justin M. Seaman just absolutely fucking get’s it; he’s one of us my dear creeps and I hope that there are many, many more films coming our way from that dude!

 
To sum it up, I just cannot say enough good things about THE BARN; it’s a slasher fanatics wet dream and will definitely be in my fright flick rotation for years to come; see it as soon as you can my creeps! Highest possible recommendation!

 

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Because I loved THE BARN so damn much; here’s a lil’ bonus content from my putrid past; a review of the video game tie-in to the film (which I reviewed before I set my eerie eyeballs upon the flick)!

 

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THE BARN: THE VIDEO GAME (Head Here to Purchase a Copy)

 
This may be a first ‘round these parts my fiends; an honest to Satan video game review in my creepy column! I have been a fan of video games since the moldy oldie days of the Atari 2600, and that obsession continues to this very day! Well, recently the fine fiends behind the upcomin’ slash-a-thon THE BARN (the creators of which I interviewed right in the haunted hallowed halls a while back) sent me a lil’ scare package to help satiate my mania; namely the video game adaptation of their funky fright flick! So let’s improve our hand-eye coordination and dive into the imaginatively titled THE BARN: THE VIDEO GAME!

 
Firing up TBTVG one thing becomes amazingly apparent; this thing wears it’s retro-roots right on its sinister sleeve! The pixel art, the music, hell; even the basic game play all take ya right back to those halcyon days when the Nintendo Entertainment System ruled the raucous roost and demanded all of your free time! The best way I can describe this thing is to say; this is the game that the FRIDAY THE 13TH game from 1989 tried so hard to be but fell woefully short (though admittedly I have a soft spot for it), to wit: you control a variety of teens, each with their own unique attributes and weapon as they traverse a rural setting while being waylaid by various supernatural creatures and deranged psychos.

 
The basic story of the game (and most likely the movies as well; who knows? I haven’t had a chance to lay my putrid peepers on it yet!) goes like this; after attending a rock concert a group of teens is stranded in the middle of nowhere after their van breaks down. After looking for help; most of the gang goes missing and it’s up to Sam to rescue them and dispatch the evil that roams the countryside.

 
The gameplay is easy to pick up and master; head to the right (although you can head back as needed and going all the way left allows you to switch your character), kill everything in sight and collect your friends and a few items. It’s classic, uncomplicated, and fun…you know, what a retro-flavored game should be (not to mention thankfully not as ball crushing in difficulty like games of that era oft-times were).

 
Speaking of the past, the graphics in this are a superb 8-bit pastiche and add a ton of good ol’ Autumnal atmosphere to the proceedings. If this were an actual NES game in the 80’s folks would have been celebrating its look far and wide I’d wager!

 
I can’t praise this enough; it’s a great bit of marketing for sure; but more than that it’s a labor of love with a real understanding of what made the games of the 80’s just so much damn fun! If this is how the folks behind THE BARN treat their genre inspirations, then I believe we are in for one hell of an awesome experience when the film is released!

 

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Still not satisfied? How about an interview with the folks behind the monstrous motion picture!!

 
DANIEL XIII: Tell the ol’ Coffin Club all about THE BARN (seriously, some of these cats actually DO live under rocks and may not have heard about it) and how all of you came to be involved with it!

JUSTIN M. SEAMAN: Well, I am the writer and director of THE BARN a a 80s style retro horror film that takes place in the 1980s following a group of teens who stumble upon an old abandon barn and unleash a trio of baddies on Halloween night! If that’s not enough for you it has blood, guts, boobies and rock n roll music! This has been a passion goal of mine for 22 years!

MITCHELL MUSOLINO: THE BARN is one of those types of gems that doesn’t surface very often, especially in a monotonous watered down town like Claysville, Pennsylvania. But, when they do come around it’s something to marvel at. I was very fortunate to have been cast in this project. Hearing about it very last minute, I had just moved back from Boston where I tried to expand my career, which didn’t work out. I came home (true story!) because of a fortune cookie message saying “You will find luck when you return home.” Not long after, I saw this movie having auditions, and I didn’t know anything about it except that it was a horror movie. Justin and the production crew originally had me read for the roles of Josh, and Russell, but after seeing me preform, and how I looked in person, they wanted me to try to read for Sam the lead character, so I did, and a week later I was offered the role!

ZANE HERSHBERGER: Well, I became involved with the project when I was invited on board originally as the assistant camera man/2nd unit camera operator.  I was really excited to be involved in a project that was so dependent on the ’80s style.  So, we eventually lost the original Director of Photography and I offered to step up for Justin and assume those duties because I sincerely believed in what he was trying to do.  We even went back and revisited scenes that Justin thought we could do even better.

ROCKY GRAY: It all started when I saw the poster art that Sinister Art had done for the film on Facebook. I immediately sent a message to The Barns page and attached my album Accursed so they could hear what I could do. I got a reply back fairly quickly and Justin liked a few of the songs off of the album and wanted to use them in the film which I was very happy to hear and also offered to do some original music for the film as well. Justin was into the idea and from there as he would get a new clip put together he would send it to me and I would compose music for them. Some would have temp scores on them and some would not. In final production of the soundtrack we ended up with 30 compositions on it not including the various artists that appear on the soundtrack as well which is another 18 tracks. To say the music plays a big part of the film is an understatement.

DANIEL XIII: Since THE BARN is so heavily influenced by the eerie eighties, what challenges did all of you face to keep things faithful to that arcane aesthetic?
JS: I think first and for most it was the lighting design, then costumes and set dressing as well as camera movements. It was a changeling film to make for many reasons, we wanted to try and make an original feeling movie but at the same time have a vibe that made it felt like it could have been an old film you might have missed. We also wanted the film to be just enough serious that it was fun without being silly or being an 80s spoof. We wanted to do as many practical special effects as possible and I believe about 97% of what is all screen is all practical.

MM: From an actor’s standpoint, I really had to go outside of my element with this movie. I born just after the 80’s, and had never really paid too much attention to how 80’s acting differed from current day acting until I signed onto this movie. So I would watch movies from that era, and try to study deliveries, and gestures, etc. Every tiny detail went into Sam, and I caught on very quickly, that I was basically playing him effortlessly. Another challenge I faced with this project is the diversity of backgrounds the other actors came from. For some, this was their first movie coming from theater acting, others this was their FIRST project ever, so I had to figure out how to play off of each one individually to make it as 80’s authentic, and believable as possible on screen, and I think we did a good job with that.

ZH: We didn’t have too much trouble in that department.  Justin knew what he wanted and we just attacked it with what we remembered about those older films.  Obviously shooting techniques have changed since the 1980’s, so we tried to keep the handheld camera shots to a minimum and used more restraint, smooth movements with dollies and a jib.  The lighting, especially in the Hootenanny and roller rink scenes, were aimed to have a more vibrant, colorful look to emulate a ‘neon’ feel.  With the story taking place on Halloween, this approach really fit nicely into the mix of everything and brought the trick ‘r’ treat scenes to life.

RG: Being set in a certain time period especially in an era like the eighties might be challenging for some but i was very much at home with it. I love the movies and music from that era and had already been doing that style on a few songs from my Accursed record so i kind of had started getting the palette of what sounds i could use and more importantly what I could not use. Very few pieces of music were written without a clip to go with it. It was much easier for me being able to score to picture when he would send clips because the movie is shot so perfectly for the period that the music just about wrote itself. Justin would have a temp score in the clip or send me a note that would say “I’m thinking a Halloween III type feel for this one” or something like that and I would know exactly where to take the music. The biggest challenge was to keep writing after about 20 or 25 pieces of music. I was starting to feel the pressure of keeping it exciting and fun but also work for the scene. I think every track we used is perfect for the movie. I could not be more pleased with it.
DANIEL XIII: How difficult was it to create some sinister slashers that are unique and what went into their diabolical design?

JS: I actually wrote the story when I was 8 years old and at the time I found these three creatures the most interesting for some odd reason. I would get bored staying at my grandparents’ house out in the country during the summers. In attempts to keep myself entertained I would draw or write stories. So one day, I happened to be sitting on the porch when I noticed and old building far out in the woods I had never seen before. I thought to myself “I wonder what’s in that old barn…probably monsters!” Suddenly my mind began creating things I could associate with the farm and area. “Hallowed Jack” a pumpkin man who watches over the pumpkins in his patch, “The Candycorn Scarecrow” an old creepy scarecrow that protects the cornfield and it’s crops and last “The Boogeyman” a zombified looking mining who walks the property and guards the barn. Soon after I made a series of handmade storybooks about all the monsters called “The Barn”. Luckily I feel like I had a pretty good childhood imagination and not maybe details changed over the 22 years these monsters I been with me.

MM: It was a constant battle trying to stay original, and getting the perfect shot. Justin is a genius when it comes to thinking of new things people haven’t seen yet, or something that sparks that bit of nostalgia in a person. I can’t tell you how many hours we spent setting up for ONE shot that you probably see on screen for less than a second. I had a pretty cool kill in the movie that took maybe 30+ takes in order to get the blood squirt right, or the chop correct. It’s very hard work, and a lot of people don’t realize the leaps and bounds that people have to go through to make films. But, I enjoy every second of it!

ZH: Justin pulled them from his own imagination when he used to stay at his grandma’s house and think about what could be lurking in an old barn that sat not too far from her home.  He took those concepts and made small homemade books with the three creatures as the antagonists in his story…you know, typical kid stuff!
DANIEL XIII: Are you all horror fanatics in general, and if so what are some of your fav fright flicks?

JS: I was raised on a healthy diet of horror films. My parents had divorced at an early age and on the weekends I would go to my father’s house. Trying to be the cool parent he would let me rent whatever my mom wouldn’t allow. So from about kindergarten on I was hooked frequent rentals included- RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, DEMONS, TRICK OR TREAT, THE MOSTER SQUAD, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, THE LOST BOYS, FRIGHT NIGHT and of course A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET to name a few.

MM: I wasn’t as into it as Justin, or our DP Zane are, until I worked with them literally every day. I was scarred at a young age when I saw the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE at around age 5. It scared me so much that I didn’t watch many scary movies after that. Since working on THE BARN I have watched countless scary movies. I love them! You appreciate them so much being around people who worship them. I’ve went back to view TEXAS CHAINSAW again, and loved it! Easily my favorite.

ZH: I am definitely a horror fanatic!  I love everything spanning from the silent NOSFERATU, all the way up to the films they are putting out today.  My favorites are the ones from the 1980’s because that’s was what was going on when I was growing up.  Some of my favorites are NIGHT OF THE DEMONS, EVIL DEAD, HELL NIGHT, and the HALLOWEEN series….yes, even part III!  I love it!

RG: I am very much a horror fanatic. I have a collection of over a thousand dvd’s and blu-rays and around 100 or so VHS. I like everything from the original WOLFMAN to SINISTER. Some standout horror favorites would include anything written, scored or directed by John Carpenter, THE EXORCIST (1&3), SALEMS LOT, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1&2), any James Wan horror movie, RE-ANIMATOR, DAGON, TRICK OR TREAT and TRICK R TREAT, GATES OF HELL, FRIDAY THE 13TH (all but 7,8 &10), A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1,2,3) to name a few.
DANIEL XIII: Where can my faithful Coffin Club keep up on the latest news about the film and all of your future projects?

JS: They can visit our website and Facebook!

DANIEL XIII: Fangs guys!

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