While horror movies often center around our spookiest holiday, it’s a nice treat when they center around the season of giving. While Christmas horror does not always get the spotlight, the blend can be extremely pleasing. With bright colors on white backgrounds, directors show a sense of style. That, plus some fun designs, helps There’s Something in the Barn become an instant classic in the subgenre.
After a death in the family, American dad Bill (Martin Starr) moves his family to Norway. With his second wife Carol (Amrita Acharia), daughter Nora (Zoe Winther-Hansen), and son Lucas (Townes Bunner), Bill hopes the family can move forward. While the new situation will take some adjusting, odd things begin happening around the house. Soon after, Lucas discovers a mischievous and possibly very dangerous elf (Kiran Shah) living close to the house.
Director Magnus Martens approaches the material with a deft hand. He embraces some hilarious gore effects alongside excellent character design. While a feature like Krampus never showed the true extent of the gore, There’s Something in the Barn has no such holdups. As a result, it stands out from other American horror comedies and fully commits to its concept.
This allows Martens to utilize some genuinely excellent kills and gore showcases. The use of practical effects helps There’s Something in the Barn shine, but it also makes it worse when it substitutes in CGI or a green screen. The best moments of the comedy hang on its slapstick, ridiculous humor. Yet the punchlines lose potency when an explosion down the road cuts back to characters clearly set against a fake forest.
The build toward the climax of There’s Something in the Barn does feel a little long in the tooth. Once the hijinx begins, the Christmas story soars. However, with characters repeating the same frustrations and interactions between Bunner and Shah becoming repetitive, we lose steam. Martens does a great job setting up elements of the town, including Calle Hellevang-Larsen‘s comedic relief. However, a few too many scenes with Henriette Steenstrup‘s hapless cop make her a less effective presence. In two of her scenes, she’s brilliant. In this case, the bit gets overexposed.
Starr might be the biggest name in the cast, but he does not dominate the screen. Each family member gets showcase sequences, with Acharia and Winther-Hansen stealing the show. Acharia becomes easy to relate to, while some poor writing for Winther-Hansen is corrected by action sequences late in the film. Acharia stands out as an immediate benefactor from the film, which bodes well for her future.
Despite struggles with greenscreens and some of the screenplay, There’s Something in the Barn makes for an exciting new Christmas horror flick. It’s fun, light, and, most importantly, hilarious. The actors know exactly what kind of movie they’ve signed up for, and Martens ensures the film commits to its premise. With fun gore effects and great characters, There’s Something in the Barn will earn perennial holiday viewing status for horror fans.