Friday, January 18, 2013

The Barrens

The Barrens ~ There has never been a decent movie made about the Jersey Devil. There have been more than a few duds, usually made by folks who either don't live here or don't know anything about the legend. Research is so important. I'm convinced that until a film is made of "The Pines" by Robert Dunbar (and done right), there probably won't ever be a good movie on our local legend ever made.

The real Pine Barrens
Case in point - Anchor Bay's The Barrens, written and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, a Kansas native, and a veteran of three Saw movies, and Repo! The Genetic Opera. I could just stop there, I suppose, but I'll also add that he chose to film this horror flick, set in the South Jersey Pine Barrens, in Toronto. Yes, Toronto. To his credit, he wanted to film on location, but Toronto was cheaper. The Pine Barrens is an area that looks nothing like any other place on earth, for those not from here. The trees are stunted, not tall. So much for authenticity.

Also known as The Forest, and The Jersey Devil, the film has Stephen Moyer, vampire Bill Compton from HBO's "True Blood," as a British dad in the States who forces his family - second wife Mia Kirshner, teenage daughter, and young son, none of whom want to go - on a camping trip into the Pine Barrens like he used to do with his dad when he was a kid.

Where am I supposed to be from again?
I spent a lot of time trying to figure what vampire Bill's accent was supposed to be. It should have been British, but was it Australian? But he's not Australian, is he? It was very distracting. I know that Moyer can do an American accent. So why confuse the audience?

The saddest part of the film, for folks like me, is that this Kansas clown can't even get the legend of the Jersey Devil right. It's a very simple story, but he's got witches, evil spirits and Indian legends mixed in there. And since when does JD butcher deer? It's not even the right kind of deer. A little research please?

Anyway, apparently Bill is a bit troubled, more than a little disturbed actually, traumatized by something that happened in the Barrens years ago when he was a kid, or a dog bite. By guess who, yeah, duh. I saw it miles away too. Even his family thinks he's nuts, they're just trying to be really calm about it - you know, the way you tiptoe around a crazy person. All in all, it's the predictability of the story that is most disappointing.

The last half-hour of the movie is seemingly endless. And for the most part, pointless. I couldn't wait for this to be over with. Again I suppose we will have to wait for Robert Dunbar's "The Pines" to be made into a film for a good movie on the Jersey Devil. This isn't it, The Barrens is just a sad excuse for a horror flick. Skip it.

For the record, I think there are more bears in New Jersey than there are mountain lions, Native Americans, or Jersey Devils. And Oswego is not a trail, or a river - it's a lake. Research, people, research!


  1. Have you ever seen "The 13th Child" staring Uncle Ben Parker, or "The Last Broadcast", which apparently did the whole Blair Witch thing a few years before the "Blair Witch Project"

  2. Check the link under 'duds' for how little I thought of 13th Child.

    Last Broadcast wasn't so much about the Jersey Devil as it was around the Jersey Devil. That said, I liked it quite it a bit. Had it had the budget that Blair Witch had, as little as it was, it would have blown Blair Witch outta the water.

  3. Loved this post and maybe, just maybe we'll see a good movie of the JD before we die.

  4. I don't watch horror movies but thanks for giving me a valid reason to avoid this one. I despise the pine barrens. Flat, plain, utterly boring. According to my husband, it is the most unique forest in the world and there are revolutionary war-era cities buried there.

    Perhaps we'll see a good movie about the Jersey Devil one day. Well you can see it. I'll be watching the 111th installment of "The Hobbit."