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DVD Released: 9/25/2012
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/6/2012
Welcome to part 2 of an unintentional alphabetical order double feature. Yesterday I reviewedThe Barrens and today I'm reviewing Barricade. Besides the fact that they would be adjacent in a movie collection, the films have other things in common which make this a bizarre coincidence. Both are ostensibly horror movies. Both involve family's going to the wilderness. And, the weirdest part, both have the same twist ending. This isn't a case of a rip-off or synergy, it's just a strange twist of fate. And that little story was far more interesting than anything in Barricade.
Barricade introduces us to the Shade family -- Terrance (Eric McCormack) and his two children, Cynthia (Conner Dwelly) and Jake (Ryan Grantham). A year after the death of his wife, Leah (Jody Thompson), Terrance decides to take the kids to Leah's family's country cabin -- a place about which she was always talking. After stopping at a small store, where they meet Sheriff Howes (Donnelly Rhodes) and get the key, the family travels to the cabin. Once there, they begin to settle in, checking out the supplies and playing in the show. However, it's not long until both kids begin showing symptoms of being sick. Terrance decides that they need to find a doctor, but the blizzard has trapped them. Things get worse when it appears to a person or people are stalking the family. Terrance secures the house, but the kids' symptoms get worse. Terrance desperately searches the house for a way to defend himself or an escape route. However, exhaustion begins to take a toll on him.
Barricade is a genre-bending movie which attempts to bring many things to the story. At the outset, it looks like this may be another "city family goes to the country and bad things happen movie". While many of these films take place in a forest or a desert locale, I can't recall a recent one which took place in a snowstorm. This theme continues once the family reaches the cabin and they see shadowy figures lurking outside. The movie then introduces what it wants to be its central conceit -- Terrance boards up the doors and windows, only to realize that whatever is after them may have found its way inside. This and the children's apparent illness really weighs on Terrance.
But, there is a whole other side to the movie. As the story wears on, Terrance has black outs and when he awakens, reality has shifted -- time has changes, things in the house are different, the weather has transitioned, etc. This turns Barricade into more of a psychological thriller along the lines of Jacob's Ladder or Brain Dead. And like those films, we are right there with the protagonist, never knowing what is real or what is in his imagination.
The weird thing about Barricade is that the screenplay by Michaelbrent Collings seems determined to throw the kitchen sink at us, no matter how detrimental it is to the movie as a whole. This wants to be a fast-paced (sort of) movie, but this creates problems as it never allows any of the movie's ideas to form completely. There's somebody outside, no wait, the snow has gotten worse, no wait, the kids are sick, no wait, I don't know how I got here. This feeling gets worse when Terrance begins to question what he is seeing. His reality changes every few minutes and it becomes ludicrous.
And then we have the ending. Not unlike The Barrens, when the explanation is revealed in Barricade, our response is "Really?" I won't give it away here, but let's just say that the reason for why everything has been happening is dull and pedestrian. In the annals of twist endings, this is near the bottom and M. Night Shyamalan wouldn't give it the time of day. Let's leave it at this, when Tylenol would have solved the problem, we aren't exactly dealing with the most exciting plot point of all time.
The movie gets off to a promising start, but Barricade quickly loses its way. I'm a big fan of mind-f%&* movies, but Barricade simply takes the sub-genre too far. Having the story switch with every scene is like eating an entire Whitman's sampler in one setting. At first you say, "Yea chocolate!", but after a while, you say, "Not more chocolate!" I was hoping that Barricade would be a satisfying haunted house movie, but the result is a redundant near-mess with a lame ending. And as someone who has always lived in warm cilmes, I can't help but wonder why anyone would want to go to a place prone to blizzards.
Barricade would have been better if Megan Mullally had shown up on DVD courtesy of WW Studios. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. This discussion must start with the fact that the image is too dark. Iím not saying that this is a dark movie, Iím saying that the image is so dark that we canít tell whatís happening at times. I starting watching the movie during the day and actually had to stop because the little bit of sunlight coming into the room was rendering the movie unwatchable. Iím still not sure what was happening during the scene on the road near the beginning of the film. If Director Andrew Currie was trying to make the movie realistic by showing how dark it would be to be in the country with no lights, thatís great, but we should be able to see whatís happening in your movie. The dark appearance has rendering the image quite flat and the colors have no life. There was no notable snow against the snowy backdrops, so I guess thatís one good thing. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track provides good stereo and surround effects. As things are often happening in multiple parts of the house, the mix makes good use of these effects to mimic the on-screen actions. The subwoofer effects are nicely done as well, most notably when an ominous knock comes at the front door.
The Barricade DVD contains a few extra features. In "Blueprint to Fear: The Cabin" (5 minutes), Production Designer Geoff Wallace shows us around the detailed sets and we learn that no practical locations were used, and that some exterior sets were built as well (including photograph backgrounds). "Whiteout" (7 minutes) shows the challenges of shooting the exterior scenes using snow machines, and using artificial snow to decorate the set. There is a discussion of how the Will & Grace star turned to horror in "Breaking Type: Eric McCormack" (4 minutes). "Manning Park" (5 minutes) examines how a Canadian national park was used for the exterior locations. The final extra is a PHOTO GALLERY.
Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long