I checked out The Barrens and The Pyramid, two films starring True Blood alum—but only one of these creature features will be making its way into my movie collection.
THE BARRENS (2012)
Ashmore twin Shawn and Saw franchiser Athena Karkanis are hiking through the woods when they come face-to-face with something awful, which makes it disappointingly clear that Ashmore won’t be starring in The Barrens.
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, III, and IV, Repo! The Genetic Opera, Mother’s Day remake, The Devil’s Carnival), the film stars Stephen Moyer of True Blood as a man who brings his family camping into the woods then quickly begins to descend into madness, convinced the Jersey Devil is after them.
The movie’s whole goal is to keep you wondering if Moyer’s is just losing his mind or if there really is a monster—even though we saw two completely unrelated characters attacked by something in the woods at the beginning. This movie goes on forever, with Moyer repeatedly seeing/hallucinating the Jersey Devil. It’s a pretty dang cool looking monster for a modern movie (because it’s not CGI), and would have been the only thing that could have saved the film for me if it would have just gotten the fuck out of Moyers’ mind.
Moyers loses his shit when a teen tells a campfire story about the legend (complete with flashbacks to colonial days), campers go missing, campers turn up dead, Moyer’s becomes convinced his wife is cheating on him, and the family finds a campsite with a dead animal and a torn up tent. Yet…they crash there and the wife lets the daughter go into the woods at night alone. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, something is revealed about Moyer’s behavior and the family dog that actually made me laugh—and made me fear this was going to be the saddest excuse for a Jersey Devil movie ever.
If you watch the version on Hulu as of this writing, nothing is ever really cleared up after chaos and a final battle ensue, because it excludes a final scene (which I saw when the film aired on ChillerTV) that flat out answers the question of whether or not there was a Jersey Devil.
THE PYRAMID (2014)
Combining found footage with traditional third person film and looking like it was going to be a mashup of As Above, So Below and The Descent, The Pyramid sat on my DVR until I had nothing better to do.
Had I known, I would have bumped it up on the list of movies it turns out I could have found something better to do than watch.
I mean, yeah, The Pyramid is mostly derivative. An archaeological crew, led by the great Denis O’Hare of True Blood and American Horror Story, discovers a buried pyramid in Egypt. The pyramid is believed to be cursed. The crew sends a camera robot into the pyramid, and it gets attacked by something ferocious. So…the crew goes in.
There’s plenty of camera POV, flashlight beam footage, and fleeting jump scares as the crew gets chased and attacked by little critters running around in the dark. But there’s more here than the usual horror entry level scares for the tweens.
Holy shit does this movie get whacked as the reveal of what’s really in the dark with them comes into the light—or should I say, into the night vision. It totally gave me Quarantine flashbacks, which is always a good thing.
Mythological backstory is presented of what exactly this terrifying and awesome looking creature is. Granted, the details come ridiculously from a book the crew finds in the pyramid and starts reading in the height of the hellish situation, but I’ll overlook that because the final act kicks horror ass.
I will be adding The Pyramid to my movie collection.