What do you get when you take a man already losing his mind, place him deep into the forest and then add the Jersey Devil on top for good measure? You get The Barrens; an emotional thrill ride that’s more than just a take on a legendary cryptid.
Written and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (whose previous works include Mother’s Day, The Devil’s Carnival and SAW II, III and IV), The Barrens stars Stephen Moyer (True Blood) as Richard Vineyard, a suburban husband and father trying to rekindle the relationship with his family by taking them on a camping trip deep into the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.
Along the way, the family discovers the legend of the Jersey Devil, but Richard reassures them that it’s all just pretend (SURE it is) and nothing to worry about. But, there are secrets that Richard has been keeping from them. One of which eventually causes him to spiral out of control and descend into madness as he becomes convinced the family is being stalked by the legendary monster.
The Barrens also stars Mia Kirshner (The Vampire Diaries), Allie MacDonald (House at the End of the Street) and Shawn Ashmore (X-Men: The Last Stand).
I found this film intriguing on many different levels. First, Stephen Moyer’s performance is outstanding. I haven’t seen someone lose their mind this good since Jack Nicholson went bonkers in The Shining. I also enjoyed how the movie deviated from what I initially expected. Just when you think you have it figured out; the story takes you off in an entirely different direction.
Viewers wanting to see a glimpse of the legendary creature certainly won’t be disappointed with this movie. But in the end, the real reason The Barrens succeeds is not because of the monster. It’s the story of a man’s descent into madness that draws you in and keeps you guessing until the very end.
In a world hungering for great dramatic thrillers, it’s unfortunate that films like The Barrens (along with Bousman’s previous film, an amazing re-make of “Mother’s Day” starring Rebecca De Mornay) never saw a wide theatrical release. Both of these films are solid, well-crafted productions with stars who give nothing less than stellar performances. Ones that I highly recommend you see.
I had the opportunity to speak with writer/director Darren Lynn Bousman and discuss The Barrens and much more in this exclusive interview.
goJimmygo (gJg): Before we begin, I have to tell you how much I loved Mother’s Day.
Darren Lynn Bousman (DLB): Thank you very much!
gJg: Whenever I see people Tweeting you that they’ve “finally” seen it, it frustrates me because of how long it took for it to finally be released.
DLB: The whole thing frustrates me as well. Mother’s Day is such a cool, unique film. The problem was, no one gave it a shot. They said it was too “artsy”, not “commercial” enough or not “scary” enough. The good news now is that people are finally getting to see it to some extent, so it’s cool.
gJg: Rebecca De Mornay was fantastic in that movie.
DLB: She certainly was.
And Stephen Moyer is equally as good in The Barrens.
DLB: Stephen Moyer just killed it in this film. I’m a big fan of his from True Blood.
gJg: The thing I liked most about The Barrens is that it’s not a horror movie, it’s more of a thriller.
DLB: That was my whole goal going in. I wanted to do something that was a little bit more dramatic in nature but still had elements of those monster movies that I love. Those are my favorite types of movies.
Some people might say that it’s a “monster movie”, but it’s really not. It’s the story about a man and his descent into madness that just happens to have a monster in it.
gJg: What made you decide to write a story based upon the Jersey Devil?
DLB: I’ve always loved Cryptozoology creatures and the Jersey Devil was the one that I felt had not been exploited, where so many of the others have. We’ve all seen Big Foot and The Loch Ness Monster everywhere. The Jersey Devil was one that I’ve never seen done correctly.
gJg: How would you describe the story of The Barrens?
DLB: It’s a story about a father looking to rekindle his relationship with his family. He takes them on a camping trip into the woods and then begins to spiral out of control into insanity… oh, and there happens to be a monster! [laughs]. The best way to describe it: it’s “The Shining in the woods meets JAWS!”
gJg: What are some of the elements that make up a great horror/thriller film like this one?
DLB: More important than anything else, it’s great performances. Without those, you’ve got nothing. It’s why Mother’s Day is so great (Rebecca’s performance) and why this one is so great (Stephen’s performance). These movies, if done by any other actors would not have had the same impact. In the end, it all comes down to acting.
Misdirects is another big one. That’s where the audience thinks they have it figured out going in, but then you do something that they didn’t expect. I think a lot of people thought that the story was going to be based on the trailer, but then were surprised with something else.
gJg: My particular favorite scene was where the son, Danny (Peter DaCunha) runs up and gets scared.
DLB: That scene makes me so happy, because that’s a genuine reaction. We didn’t show him the dog beforehand. So when we filmed and he was coming up, he really thought he was coming up to see a dog. [laughs]
gJg: Do you have a favorite scene?
DLB: I’d have to say the scene with Danny near the water. It’s a disturbing thing, but you really feel for the family at that moment. And again, it’s not reliant upon the creature or anything like that. It’s just an emotional connection.
gJg: What projects are you working on right now?
DLB: We’ll start filming the second installment of The Devils Carnival in early 2013. Everything about it will be the same, including another nationwide tour. It’s my soul cleansing for the films that didn’t get released theatrically. It’s something that I get to control.
I’m also working on ABATTOIR which is based on a comic book that I wrote. I was one of the writers who created the concept for it and we’re now turning it into a feature. I recommend people check out the comic book.
The Barrens will be released October 9th as a Two Disc Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack. Extras include audio commentary as well as a deleted scene.
Article first published as Darren Lynn Bousman Discusses His New Film, The Barrens on Technorati.
One thought on “Darren Lynn Bousman Discusses His New Film, The Barrens”
What a great interview! I loved his remake of ‘Mother’s Day’, and I think that Bousman is fascinating. It was nice to get an insight into his unique mind. Thanks for sharing! Keep up the good work!!