The Barrens harkens back to the cryptozoological craze of that decade, rife with mostly rotten pics about Bigfoot and Boggy Creek and the like. This one’s better, following family man Stephen Moyer (TV’s True Blood), his second wife (Mia Kirshner, The Black Dahlia) and their two children on a fun-filled vacation (well, for him, at least) into the pine barrens of a national forest.
He wants bonding time, but finds only terror, in the foamy-mouthed form of the Jersey Devil, a winged creature of urban legend rumored to be the 13th child of a woman, but her first offspring of Satan himself. Bousman long teases the audience on whether Moyer’s seeing things; regardless, we see them, so monster-hungry viewers shouldn’t be disappointed.
Not long after arriving on the campgrounds, the family joins a group ’round the fire, where one young man spins a tale of terror. It’s in that campfire-ready mindset in which you should be to best watch and appreciate The Barrens for what it is, and what it is not.
The Blu-ray contains an alternate ending used in foreign markets, and it’s kind of refreshing to hear Bousman make fun of it. He’s not yet a master of horror, but it’s increasingly evident he knows what works more often than not. —Rod Lott