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The Barrens Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (Blu-ray); Dolby 5.1 (DVD)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: R
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray; 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 9, 2012
  • List Price: $29.99

Overall
[Rating:2/5]
The Film
[Rating:2/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:2/5]

The Barrens, like many horror flicks, starts off innocently enough with a young couple on a nature hike. When they discover a rotting deer carcass, being picked over by birds, the tone is set for everything that follows. Darren Lynn Bousman opens with an HBO True Blood style intro sequence and then borrows themes from Stephen King’s The Shining and Cujo. Stephen Moyer (True Blood’s Vampire Bill Compton) plays Richard Vineyard, a father and husband in a stressed marriage who believes that a family vacation to his old camping grounds will mend all internal rifts. Vineyard and wife (Mia Kushner) pack up their kids (Peter DaCunha and Allie MacDonald) and immediately get jolted by an eviscerated deer in the middle of the road. Of course, there is a back-story involving the young Richard that we get by way of flashbacks in the same woods where he now returns to scatter his father’s ashes. Early on, we are treated to the fireside legend of the “Jersey Devil” who inhabits the barrens. However, this set up reminded me of The Blair Witch Project where the fantasy character ends up playing a very minor role in the proceedings. Did I mention that we find out that the family dog Oscar who might have been rabid bit Richard? And, of course, Oscar’s carcass also shows up in the woods. The Barrens offers the usual turn-the-corner-and-cringe moments in what becomes a formula chiller ridden with the usual clichés and predictable plot twists.

Video Quality

[Rating:3/5]

As a new film, presumably shot with up-to-date cameras, I was surprised by the graininess and softness of the images. Black levels were also disappointing by today’s standards and there was noticeable motion artifact. For those into gore, there is enough of that, but it is insufficient to surmount the other video shortcomings of this movie.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The soundtrack is probably the best aspect of this film. It is atmospheric with plenty of LFEs.  Dialogue, saints preserve us, is crystal clear, but not to the film’s advantage, given its formulaic content.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1.5/5]

A short list of extras is included

  • Audio Commentary with writer/director Bousman and director of photography Joseph White
  • Deleted Scene

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:2/5]

Without tossing in a spoiler, although I was sorely tempted to do so and thus spare potential viewers, this film is the antithesis of a nail-biter. The family survival theme has been done many times before, and, on this account, The Barrens gets the very short end of the cinematic stick. I continually got the impression that director/writer Bousman tried to include a potpourri of tried and true horror film elements without considering how they would work as a whole. With undistinguished cinematography, special effects, acting or script, you just wish that the denouement had happened about three minutes into the film’s 93 minute running time (when the hikers find the rotting deer), saving all of us much precious time.       

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase The Barrens on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

The Barrens

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B008NNY8UE[/amazon-product]

Purchase The Barrens on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

The Barrens

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:2/5]
The Film
[Rating:2/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1.5/5]


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