There's Something In The Barn (2023)
Directed by: Magnus Martens
Written by: Aleksander Kirkwood Brown, Josh Epstein, Kyle Rideout
Starring: Amrita Acharia, Calle Hellevang Larsen, Henriette Steenstrup, Jeppe Beck Laursen, Kiran Shah, Martin Starr, Paul Monaghan, Townes Bunner, Zoe Winther-Hansen
THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE BARN (2023)
Directed by Magnus Martens
An American family wave goodbye to sunny California and say hello to snow-covered Norway after patriarch Bill inherits a farmhouse belonging to his recently deceased Norwegian uncle. Whilst the family make big plans for their new home in the countryside, little do they realise there’s something living in the adjoining barn that is about to make their lives a living nightmare.
It’s ho, ho, argh! this Christmas as comedy horror THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE BARN unleashes onto the screens just in time for Crimbo. Mix a winter wonderland with Gremlins, and add a dash of dry humour, Norwegian style, and you get this fun-spirited, festive romp.
Martin Starr stars as dopey, laid back dad Bill who reckons his family’s move to Norway will be the best thing they ever did. Optimism is his middle name and, no matter what, he knows their new life in Norway will work, even though everything points to it going downhill quickly. Wife Carol (Amrita Acharia) is trying to hold onto her sanity as she tries to balance being a supporting wife and understanding step-mother, keeping the family a functioning unit in a strange place that isn’t as welcoming as she first thought. Teenage daughter Nora (Zoe Winther-Hansen) misses the warm climate, the beach and, most importantly, her friends back home in California and is struggling to come to terms that they’ve left their life in America behind. One person who doesn’t seem to have as many complaints about their relocation is Nora’s younger brother Lucas (Townes Bunner) whose thoughts are more occupied by something hiding in the barn that watches the house at night. Convinced that a mythical creature, known as a barn elf, is hiding in the barn, he attempts to make friends with it. After learning that barn elves don’t like loud noise, bright lights or change, Lucas tries to stay on the elf’s best side by placating him with treats. However, when the rest of his family want to throw a Christmas party, and have plans to turn the barn into an holiday home they can rent out, it seems their wishes may put them at odds with the barn’s inhabitant, and we all know what he did last time someone pissed him off… As doubts begin to creep in as to whether upping sticks and moving to a completely new country was a good idea, all hell breaks lose and suddenly it’s the least of their worries.
THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE BARN is a tremendous amount of fun. Without spilling too much of the red stuff but dropping more than a few f-bombs, it’s hardly a family film but is quite a tame example of the genre that could be enjoyed by older kids who don’t need to be sheltered from cussing and a bit of horror-themed comedy violence. The film is delightfully tongue-in-cheek and delivers the outlandish terror-fuelled hijinks at just the right moment, turning the snuggly, frost-capped Nordic scenes into a fight for survival.
Right from the beginning of the movie, we get a feel for what kind of film we’re in for with the disturbing opening scene involving Bill’s uncle juxtaposed with the comical scene of the family arriving in Norway. A local police ranger and a museum curator are just a couple of the Norwegian characters who provide the laughs that had me chuckling from the start. It’s quite dry with its humour, which might not be to everyone’s taste, but it certainly struck a chord with me and gave the film a nice flavour that compliments the story nicely.
Whenever we have films like this, centred around a family, they can be quite hit and miss due to how the family are portrayed. Fortunately, the kids, played by Zoe Winther-Hansen and Townes Bunner, are realistic and aren’t annoying like most child characters are nowadays, so when events go south you find yourself cheering them on rather than the ‘villains’ of the piece. Which brings me onto the crafty barn elves – the titular ‘something in the barn’. Like how Gremlins made the creatures cute before they turned nasty, the barn elves are somewhat similar but look like a miniature, battery-operated Father Christmas you’d have propped on the mantelpiece that wiggles its bum to a Xmas tune. However, this mini-Santa creature can get pretty nasty when his buttons are pushed, with hilarious consequences.
Light-hearted and a barrel of blood-splattered fun, THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE BARN is a hark back to the good ol’ Christmas capers of the 80’s and 90’s that frolicked with its subject matter and didn’t take things too seriously.