Martin Starr, Amrita Acharia, Zoe Winther-Hansen, Townes Bunner, Kiran Shah, Henriette Steenstrup
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… an amiable Chrissy horror comedy that could have used a little more meat on the bone.
Around this time of year, although usually a bit closer to December, we see the proliferation of Christmas themed horror flicks begin. This is an odd little subgenre, fusing the unlikely elements of fright flick and Christmas caper. There have been quite a few notable examples over the years including Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), Gremlins (1984), Krampus (2015), Violent Night (2022) and no less than two remakes of Bob Clark’s 1974 classic proto-slasher, Black Christmas. Joining this well-trodden genre stable is There’s Something in the Barn, an amiable Chrissy horror comedy that could have used a little more meat on the bone.
There’s Something in the Barn is the story of an American family who, after inheriting a farm in rural Norway, decide to move there and make a fresh start. Adults Bill (Martin Starr) and Carol (Amrita Acharia) are pretty keen on the whole caper, but teenage Nora (Zoe Winther-Hansen) is significantly less impressed and youngest Lucas (Townes Bunner) is very worried when he realises that, well, there’s something in the barn, eh. That “something” ends up being a Barn Elf, a Norwegian mythological creature that loves bickies but hates loud noises and bright lights. And when the family decides to throw a big piss-up housewarming party in the barn? Shenanigans ensue.
The thing about There’s Something in the Barn is that it does exactly what it says on the tin and not a damn thing more. The cast, particularly Starr and Acharia, do solid work with what little they’re given but the story proceeds in a very meat and potatoes way right up until the third act when the elves vs humans action finally kicks off. It’s a perfectly fine yarn, beautifully shot by director Magnus Martens, but it’s lacking inspiration. Flicks like this have been around for yonks, and even the tone itself feels lifted from superior examples of the genre like Michael Dougherty’s Krampus or, hell, even Gremlins which managed to ladle on a surprising amount of subtext and satire amidst the chaos.
That said, if you’re looking for a relentlessly competent, light Christmas horror movie that features stroppy Norwegian elves getting mediaeval on a bunch of stupid humans, There’s Something in the Barn will provide you with enough moderate thrills to give you some yuletide cheer. Although you might want to spike the eggnog liberally, to help get through some of the film’s more pedestrian and predictable elements.