There's Something in the Barn (Fantastic Fest 2023)
Dir. Magnus Martens (2023)
An American family that moved to Norway seek to transform their barn into a bed and breakfast, but there are creatures in the barn that are determined to prevent that from happening.
I'm a sucker for Christmas horror, as faithful readers may have already noticed in last year's dedication to 13 favorites and first-time watches (and may notice this year when we hopefully do it again). There are three, count 'em, THREE Christmas horror films debuting at Fantastic Fest this year, the first being the film I posted yesterday (You're Not Me), the second being The Uncle, and finally this Norwegian comedy horror that hearkens back to films like Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. It may be a little early to celebrate Christmas, as most of our readers will just be getting fully into the Halloween spirit, but it's never a bad time to explore the wonders of Scandinavian culture and the creatures that haunt the Nordic countryside.
Bill (Martin Starr, Silicon Valley), his wife (Amrita Acharia, The Serpent Queen) and his kids Nora (Zoe Winter-Hanson) and Lucas (Townes Bunner) have recently moved to Norway after inheriting a familial home, and none but he are too happy that they have uprooted their lives to move to a country where moose outnumber people 100:1. They plan to reinvent the barn as a bed and breakfast, hoping to establish an AirBnB while enjoying the gorgeous scenery. Unfortunately, the rumors about the barn may well be true: barn elves are apparently a thing in Norway, and they're not the nicest creatures in the world, either. As Lucas befriends their cohabitant and things get out of hand, the family find themselves attacked by a gang of woodland creatures who will stop at nothing to rid themselves of their human pests.
The bastard love child of Krampus and Psycho Goreman with a little bit of Christmas Vacation thrown in for good measure, There's Something in the Barn is an delightful Christmas horror film with way more blood than I expected from a movie of its kind. The body count is relatively high, the humor hits for the most part, and the blanketing snow really helps to make the movie feel like a Christmas movie as well. The elves are adorable and dangerous, with a David the Gnome feel with a Gremlins bite. Starr, Acharia, Winter-Hanson and Bunner play their roles perfectly, and the movie has a feel-good family aura that makes it a little more uplifting than the aforementioned Krampus despite the bloodshed.
The one gripe that I would have for the film is the same one that makes Psycho Goreman nearly unwatchable for me: the "dumb dad" trope is overused and obnoxious, and while it doesn't quite make me as nauseous as it did in PG, largely due to the excellent performance from Starr, it does annoy me quite a bit and take away some of the enjoyment of the film. That said, There's Something in the Barn is still an excellent holiday horror that is likely to find its footing in America, especially because it's in English and can more easily find an international audience than Rare Exports did. While it's certainly not as good as that film, it's definitely worth a watch for those who enjoy yuletide scares.
Who this movie is for: Christmas horror aficionados, Horror comedy fans, Lutefisk connoisseurs
Bottom line: There's Something in the Barn may not be the best name for the film but it's nonetheless fitting, and when the barn creatures begin to wreak havoc the fun has just begun. Excellent performances from the standout cast and the natural beauty of Norway are highlights, and for anyone looking for yet another movie to add into their yearly holiday viewing, this one will fit the bill. It's just premiered at Fantastic Fest and will be available to watch everywhere this holiday season. Check it out.