This indie horror film, funded through Indiegogo for its completion, has successfully navigated the difficulties of modern horror films by taking its audience into the past. Writer and director Justin M. Seaman reminds us that the horror genre is often one built upon tradition, and as such requires rich development and atmosphere.
The Barn encapsulates the hometown feel of the small world most horror fans grew up in, set in 1989. The small pocket of America houses troublemakers Sam (Mitchel Musolino) and Josh (Will Stout), best friends and pranksters celebrating their last Devil’s Night. After going against the ultra-Christian matriarch of the town, they are tasked with a food collection for the church. Sam and Josh, being the conniving thrill-seekers that they are, decide to do away with their task on the way to a concert on Halloween night. It is their last hurrah before their high school graduation, and the teenage drive to rail against the world is ever present.
The Barn is one of the few truly relatable films in horror and in general for me. The characters are recognizable faces of youth, with the passion and emotion so familiar to the outcast high schooler. Sam and Josh are so anxious about graduating high school and becoming the adults their parents push them to be, and even under threat of never leaving their small town; they decide to risk it all for the greatest, most reckless, youthful experience they could possibly achieve. I was nostalgic and sad watching The Barn. Full disclosure, I did something similar before my own high school graduation. Ready?
When I was preparing to graduate with honors and academic excellence and all that good-looking bull that gets you to shell out serious cash for tie-dyed ropes around your neck, I heard that Danzig was playing a few hours away from where I lived. I had some money saved from my crappy restaurant job, and no intention of actually going through with a graduation ceremony. I disappointed my entire family and left town to go see my favorite musician instead of graduate. Honestly, it’s one of the best memories I have of high school, and the best concert I have EVER attended.
So, The Barn resonates with me specifically because I was also a teenager once, and one who was sick and tired of adhering to the strict regulations of school, parents, religion, etc. From what I’ve seen of the horror community, we’ve all been in that small town before. We’re all passionate about something to the point that we would grab our friends, and skip town. Our teenage heroes do encounter trouble in their travels, but the atmosphere and story were so well done I thoroughly enjoyed every moment I was in The Barn. If Sam and Josh had gone to my high school, I would have been on that deadly road trip.
I suspect Justin M. Seaman has a similar tale of youthful dalliance under his belt, and would like to thank him for reminding me what it was like to be a rebellious teenager.