I love Christmas, but if there’s one thing I tire of, it’s the parade of schmaltzy festive flicks that fill our screens every year. Whether it be some royalty-based romance from Hallmark or a cheesy tale of family and togetherness during the holiday season, there’s only so much I can take before it makes me feel queasy. Thankfully, an all-new Xmas horror – one that is all naughty, no nice – is here to offer something a little different to the scrooges among you.
There’s Something in the Barn follows Bill (Silicon Valley’s Martin Starr), his wife Carol (Amrita Acharia), and his two kids from a previous marriage as they relocate to Norway from the US following a property inheritance. Although grumpy teen daughter Nora is unhappy to be leaving her friends behind, things seem hunky dory in the family’s new home at first – “nothing bad ever happens in Norway”, we’re told. That is, until young son Lucas discovers a secret in the family barn… And this is where the film gets a lil zany, and you’ll know right about here if you’re on board or not. The barn houses a mythical barn elf, a peaceful creature if you follow his strict rules – no changes to the barn, no loud noises, and no bright, artificial lights. Of course, these rules are all quickly broken with garish Christmas decorations – and the elves unleash hell.
What follows is a bonkers little film that feels distinctly unique while wearing its influence heavily on its sleeve. The mayhem of Gremlins is, of course, felt throughout – while National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is certainly an influence on the film’s humour and “dysfunctional family Christmas” vibes. The film is funny, although the jokes are a little broad and simplistic – mostly structured around the culture clash between USA and Norway. It would’ve been nice to have some much darker humour to match the hilarity of the twisted premise itself. The main attraction here is the violent chaos that ensues with the displeased elves – there are some memorably gory kills and the visual design of the traditional gnome-like elves wielding all manner of weaponry is, in itself, hugely entertaining.
There’s Something in the Barn may be far from perfect – the film’s low budget is felt throughout, often looking a little like a TV movie – and some of the supporting performances are a little wonky. But on the whole, the film is an absolute blast. It doesn’t take itself remotely seriously and is happy to go all out with its wacky premise of psychotic festive elves on the rampage. It’s been a long time since we’ve had this sort of film – it’s the best Christmas horror romp in years. Flawed, yes, but packed with character, and humour and gore in equal measure. Get yourself in a f***ed-up festive spirit and find out what’s lurking in the barn…
There’s Something in the Barn will be available in UK Cinemas & Digital Download from 1st December