Sunday, April 7, 2024

There's Something in the Barn

Movie Name:
There's Something in the Barn
Year of Release: 2023
Director: Magnus Martens
Starring: Martin Starr, Amrita Acharia, Kiran Shah, Townes Bunner, Zoe Winther-Hansen, Jeppe Beck Laursen, Henriette Steenstrup, Marianne Jonger, Paul Monaghan
Genre: Horror, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 2
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review
Magnus Martens has been crafting a career for himself by directing high visibility TV shows, which has included "Agents of SHIELD", "12 Monkeys", and more recently the "Walking Dead" universe, with two shows of that domain which includes "Fear the Walking Dead" and "The Walking Dead: World Beyond". "There's Something in the Barn" follows the story of an American family, the Nordheims, who move from California to Norway, since the father has inherited property in that country from a recently deceased uncle. Bill Nordheim shows up with his second wife (since his first wife has passed away), and his two children (from his first marriage), and they settle in the farm from his family in the area of Gudbrandsdalen. Nora, the teenage daughter is angry at him and her new mother, since she essentially feels removed from her life in the US and her friends there. Lucas the son in the meantime, familiarizes himself with some of the folk tales from the area, which includes traditions regarding elves and how to best live with them. Lucas starts witnessing some unusual activity in the property's barn, and suspects it's from their own elf. That turns out to be the actual case, but as Bill starts pressing his Christmas related activities around the farm, bringing noise and people into the property, the more Lucas fears they're disrupting and enraging the elf. When Lucas explains his thoughts on keeping the elf content, his family disregards him, until after the Christmas party things get more and more raucous, with some bloody outcomes.
The biggest problem with "There's Something in the Barn", is the fact that it truly never commits to anything, it lacks conviction on what is showcasing on the screen. While the premise for the film is ripe for a dark and brutal B-movie, the film tries to be somewhat funny, with the angle of the well meaning but oblivious father who is adjusting to a different culture, which never truly congeals into something comedic (the typical fish out of water narrative, with the central characters trying to adjust to new habits). When it tries to be brutal and violent, the film is rather anemic, never truly taking the action to the next level, unlike what Eli Roth for instance did with his recent "Thanksgiving" feature. The film almost comes across as a slightly R-rated pilot for a TV show, with plenty of warm feelings to boost, but one where the character establishment is minimal, and where the tone is difficult to place (is it trying to be "Northern Exposure", is it trying to be "Supernatural", hard to grasp). The cast for the most part is also quite forgettable, led by Martin Starr who usually makes compelling supporting appearances in various films (for instance in Judd Appatow's "Knocked Up"), but who is clearly uncomfortable with the lack of a more substantial script on this one. The production team is also quite unremarkable, with the visual effects being rather unpolished, the same going for the makeup effects. It doesn't come across as a funny B-Movie, with snarky humor, it's instead a rather bland and toothless film that doesn't fulfill what it set out to be: entertaining.