New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival 2017 – Movie Review: The Barn With Q&A
By Dr. Zaius
Monday, September 25th, 2017 at 4:00 pm
Director: Justin M. Seaman
Screenwriter: Justin M. Seaman
Cast: Mitchell Musolino, Will Stout, Lexi Dripps, Cortland Woodard, Nikki Darling, Nickolaus Joshua, Linnea Quigley, Ari Lehman
Distributor: Nevermore Productions
Not Rated | 90 Minutes
I was super excited to finally get a chance to check out The Barn at the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival. Emanating from the Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel in Iselin, NJ, the convention spanned the weekend featuring celebrities, horror movie reunions, cosplays contests, and screenings of new and old horror films. The Barn debuted last year and played the one night I could not attend the New York City Horror Film Festival. I toured the floor at the NJ Horror Con and found their merchandise table, where writer/director Justin M. Seaman and Director of Photography Zane Hershberger were sitting. These guys know how to sell a film! With a poster that feels cut and pasted out of an 80s video store, they have DVDs, VHS tapes (!!!), stuffed dolls of the three lead villains, board games, hats… you name it. The only question that remained was, is the film good? Simply put, The Barn is a killer good time.
Perfectly blending 80s nostalgia, classic horror homage, and plenty of guts and gore, The Barn is destined to become a classic of retro horror. Whereas much of the new horror films have eschewed gore for more psychological themes, The Barn feels right at home on shelves next to video nasties and drive thru movies. The story starts in 1959 as two kids sneak away on All Hallow’s Eve to trick-or-treat the one place they shouldn’t. Sure enough, three demonic spirits of Halloween; The Boogeyman, Hallowed Jack, and Candy Corn Scarecrow emerge from the barn, and kill the little girl. Thirty years later, we meet rebellious teen Sam (Mitchell Musolino) and his buddy Josh (Will Stout) who are out for one “last hurrah” on Halloween. This includes trekking out in a van to a crazy rock concert with a stereotypical allotment of horror movie pals. Soon they find the titular barn, knock for trick or treat, and unwittingly unleash hell.
Seaman hits every note he was trying for here. There are plenty of homages to horror classics, that eager eyed fans will catch right away, notably Halloween 3 and in one particular scene, Cannibal Holocaust. His script gives the characters, both human and monster a pretty cool backstory and gives us a reason to care about them, unlike so many slashers that just lineup victims and give you a brainless masked killers. Sam and Josh are smart heroes, following “the rules of Halloween” and the three monsters combine to form a wholly unique force. There is one scene at the “hootenanny” that is pure 80s horror gold, with some amazing kills that induced a combination of shrieks and cackles from the crowd.
The best part of The Barn might just be the music. Scored by Evanescence drummer Rocky Gray and featuring live performances by the rockabilly group The Legendary Hucklebucks, the music feels like a supporting character and maintains pulsing beats throughout. Seaman also gets some great cameos from horror icons Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead/Night of the Demons) and Ari “First Jason” Lehman. Featuring better than expected special effects, a sense of humor and respect for the genre and audience, The Barn is a worthy of it’s rising cult status, and would have definitely found a spot in my top 10 horror movies of 2016.
After the screening, Seaman, Hershberger, Quigley and one of the stars, Nikki Howell (Nikki Darling in the credits) appeared for a Q&A. Fans ended up keeping the cast and crew there over 30-minutes until we were politely asked to leave due to it being after midnight. Some highlights below:
Q: What were your major influences?
Justin M. Seaman:Night of the Demons, Monster Squad, Trick or Treat (1986), Halloween 3, the list goes on. When I set out to make it, I wanted it to be a huge mixture of all the films I loved watching from the video stores when I was growing up.
Linnea Quigley: Tell the story!
Justin M. Seaman: Okay, so I wrote the story when I was 8. That was 1993, I had just seen Monster Squad and I realized I wanted to make films. It was the height of Goosebumps, and that’s why I have the three villains. It took 22 years to make it.
Seaman wrote the story in a notebook, and usually brings it with him to shows and conventions, but forgot this time. When asked about the music, he said that Rocky Gray contacted him after seeing the poster displayed in Fangoria, and agreed to work on the project despite there being little to no money around. Like I said in the intro, the poster is awesome and instantly draws attention to the film.
Geeks of Doom: What was it like as a child of the 80s, getting to direct Linnea and to have Ari Lehman in your movie?
Justin M. Seaman: Growing up and seeing Linnea in Return of the Living Dead and Night of the Demons, she was one of the best scream queens. We were working on the film and we knew wanted her for that character, but we couldn’t get her at the time. So we actually were at the end of shooting, and we called up and she agreed, so we flew her up and it was awesome. With Ari, I wasn’t really familiar with Ari Lehman until I started doing conventions, and I was like “Oh yeah it’s Jason from Part 1.” He was perfect for this role as the kooky video DJ, and he was awesome to work with because he embraced the character, and didn’t care if he looked dumb. There’s something with horror cameos where you think, “Will the actor think it’s beneath them to do something so silly,?” But no, he jumped right in. It was like a dream come true.
When the topic of fun stories during shooting came up, they joked with Nikki Howell who had to perform her sexy tent scene in chilling temperatures with only a space heater to stay warm, as well as her death scene where she had to stay perfectly still despite the shivering cold. Hershberger was asked about shooting the film and discussed the challenges with the “Hootenanny scene” since the location was old and ill-equipped. They joked that since each death scene was filmed individually, the cast didn’t know what that scene would look like until the saw the screening. And just in case you thought the director didn’t throw his full body, heart and soul into this project, he is actually behind the mask as one of the monsters, and gets legit hit by a van in the film.
The Barn was a super fun throwback to the 80s with cool monsters, plenty of gore, clever twists, and a soundtrack that kicks ass. You can support the film by heading here: The Barn.
The Barn Official Trailer 2
The second trailer to ‘The Barn’ – A New Indie Horror Film that Parties like it’s Halloween 1989! Pre- Order your copy of ‘The Barn’ at igg.me/at/TheBarnMovie
Its Halloween 1989, best friends Sam and Josh are trying to enjoy what’s left of their final Devil’s Night before graduating high school. But trouble arises when the two pals and a group of friends take a detour on their way to a rock concert, finding an old abandoned barn and awakening the evil inside. Now it’s up to Sam and Josh to find a way to protect their friends and defeat the creatures that lurk within “The Barn”.