Never seen True Blood‘s Stephen Moyer in a movie before (that I remember) so here goes. The Barrens is a 2012 horror flick starring Moyer, Mia Kirshner, Erick Knudsen, Allie McDonald with Shawn Ashmore & Athena Karkanis in small roles. Directed & co-produced by Darren Lynn Bousman the movie takes a look at the Jersey Devil myth that originated in the Pine Barrens of the state of New Jersey.
The most accepted origin of the story, as far as New Jerseyans are concerned, started with Mother Leeds and is as follows: “It was said that Mother Leeds had 12 children and, after finding she was pregnant for the 13th time, stated that this one would be the Devil. In 1735, Mother Leeds was in labor on a stormy night. Gathered around her were her friends. Mother Leeds was supposedly a witch and the child’s father was the Devil himself. The child was born normal, but then changed form. It changed from a normal baby to a creature with hooves, a goat’s head, bat wings and a forked tail. It growled and screamed, then killed the midwife before flying up the chimney. It circled the villages and headed toward the pines. In 1740 a clergy exorcised the demon for 100 years and it wasn’t seen again until 1890.”
As the movie begins, two young lovers are trekking in the barrens after camping overnight, when the man notices that there are no animals or birds, not even the noises. Finding a pile of mutilated deer bodies, they decide to make their way back when something that seems like a mutilated deer runs towards the before dropping dead. A dark shadow like a swarm of birds seem to descend on them before the screen turns black. A couple of weeks later, Richard Vineyard is taking his second wife Cynthia, his daughter from his first wife Sadie and young son Danny for a family bonding trip to the Barrens and plan to camp there before spreading his father’s ashes in a lake where they used to go when Richard was a child. Danny keeps calling for his lost dog Oscar but the adults feel that the old dog probably died out alone. On their way to the forest, they almost hit a dear that has it’s guts falling out; it was trying to cross the road before falling down dead. Once they reach the barrens Richard is annoyed to find the campsite filled with youngsters playing loud music, drinking beer and making a lot of noise. Later that evening, when a fellow camper explains the origins of the Jersey Devil(the bastard offspring of the Devil), the campers pull a prank that scares the Vineyard family. Richard overreacts and is irate, much to the embarrassment and dismay of the rest of the Vineyard family.
Richard has occasional flashbacks to a traumatic event as a child in the Barrens and sleepwalks in the night. He then proceeds to jealously accuse his wife of cheating on him, who responds by reassuring him of her love for him. Richard apologizes soon but after Cynthia goes back to the tent, he sees something that catches his eye and a deer carcass falls from a tree. The next morning we find Richard checking a wound from before the trip and taking medicines for it when a ranger chief comes to speak to the campers. It is also revealed that one of the campers involved in the prank the previous night has gone missing, and that the hikers from earlier in the story were found the previous week dead. After that Richard, who appears physically weak, leads his family deeper into the forest, away from all the other people. During a rest, we notice the dead body of the missing camper but the family doesn’t see it. Richard’s mental condition deteriorates further as they find another camp site with a torn tent & notice a deteriorating dog corpse, hanging furs, but no people. Due to possible rains they have to camp there while Richard goes to dispose off the dog’s body and runs into Ryan, a camper who Sadie seems to like. Richard reveals he saw the Jersey Devil as a child, and it begins to rain as Ryan leaves, a bit scared. It is revealed that Richard killed the family dog, before they left, after it bit him and it had rabies which is what is affecting Richard. That night, Sadie goes in search of Ryan, when she is scared by something in the woods that has his phone.
A further deteriorated Richard & his family leave the next morning but he disappears with Danny.While calling the police, Cynthia and Sadie stumble upon the disemboweled body of Ryan with Richard’s knife next to the body. They find Danny face-down in the river and resuscitate him. Richard reappears and has a seizure. He then attacks Cynthia, breaking her leg. Richard is knocked unconscious, and tied up. Saddie and Danny run to find help, leaving an injured Cynthia near the hysterical Richard. While waiting for the police to come, Richard goes mental and breaks free as Cynthia passes out from the pain of trying to fix her broken leg when Richard sees the Jersey devil appear. Sadie and Danny are found by a hunter, the police find the bodies of the campers, and Cynthia knocks out Richard with a rock. Richard comes to Cynthia is attacked by something off screen. The hunter and the kids stumble upon Richard, and then a bleeding Cynthia and Richard manages to knock the hunter down and take his shotgun. As the police corner the Vineyards, Richard corners his family with a loaded gun and notices the Jersey Devil behind his family. The rest of his family notice it as well, horrified. Richard attempts to shoot it, but is shot by police, missing his shot. The jersey devil then kills the police before returning to kill the Vineyard family.
After the credits scene at the ending it is shown that both Sadie and Danny had survived and are at the police station with the Officer repeatedly asking Sadie on what happen in the forest but no one believes her because of her saying that the Jersey Devil did it. So she decided to go with other hunters to avenge her parents and to hunt the Jersey Devil at winter. Good little horror story, different from most that I have seen. It’s unique enough and a little creepy rather than horror filled. 7.5 outta 10 for me!