Stephen Moyer in The Barrens (2012) (aka: Devil in the Woods)

Barren in Many Ways

Following the death of his father Richard (Stephen Moyer) wants the family to head to the Pine Barrens, New Jersey for a camping trip so that he can scatter his father's ashes. But not only is Richard feeling under the weather but his daughter Sadie (Allie MacDonald) is given her step mother Cynthia (Mia Kirshner) a hard time and his son Danny (Peter DaCunha) is concerned over his missing dog. Things get no better when they almost hit a mutilated deer and everyone at the camp site is all too keen on talking about the legend of the Jersey Devil.

I don't know what I was expecting when I sat down to watch "The Barrens" which also goes by the more obvious name of "Devil in the Woods". Yes the alternate time is suggestive and I recognized director Darren Lynn Bousman's name from the "Saw" movies but certainly didn't expect anything like that. Not actually knowing what I hoped this movie would be may actually end up being part of the problem and you wait for "The Barrens" to become interesting and in truth you have to watch a lot of mediocre to get to where it starts getting good.

Part of the trouble is that "The Barrens" is pretty predictable as we becoming increasingly aware that Richard is not only super stressed but seems to be getting both worse and being controlled as he stays in the woods. He has weird dreams and hallucinations, bouts of anger and memory lapses but also moments of remorse as he knows he is becoming snappier and so on. Maybe it is just me but I just found "The Barrens" one of those movies which ended up trading purely on the shocks of suddenly finding mutilated bodies in the woods which has long done little for me.

What this all boils down to is that "The Barrens" didn't do it for me and ended up a slow progression through a predictable story with little in the way of surprises or shocks. Maybe for someone new to horror will be hooked by this story of unravelling psychosis but for those who have watched their fair share of horror movies it will come up short.