Thursday, September 27, 2012

Barricade Yourself Away from This Film: A Movie Review

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*spoilers are below!

Director: Andrew Currie.

Writers: Michaelbrent Collings.

Cast: Jody Thompson, Conner Dwelly, Ryan Grantham, and Eric McCormack.

Tagline: "Lock your doors."

Something, somewhere went wrong with the film Barricade. A lighting guy was fired or writer Michaelbrent Collings' script was not given a thorough read by someone. Because, this title seems to flip-flop about what its central conflict actually is. Also, this movie is overly dark. Whole sets and characters are hidden in shadows and hopefully, this technique was not intentional. Overall, Barricade is a lackluster showing with Eric McCormack's performance one of the few redeemable qualities in the film.

The story involves a silly plot device, a fever. The film will try to make it seem like there is an external threat. But, the shady images and strange cuts are being caused by a high temperature. The big plot twist in Barricade is revealed!

And the film's weak premise is one of its biggest drawbacks. Collings attempts to scare viewers by offering shadows behind trees. Or, a face will appear in a window. Yet, a substantial antagonist never appears. There is no direct contact between a darkened figure and this family of three: a father and his two children. So, at some point viewers will likely clue in that the story's main struggle is an internal one. It is just difficult to tell whether that internal struggle is caused by the loss of the protagonist's wife (stress), or something else. Barricade goes back and forth repeatedly to make the threat seem external when it becomes clear that it is not. This back and forwards style of storytelling keeps things unsteady, but the film's platform is developed on a weak plot element.

Horror fans will not need to think too hard about the story, because much of the film is kept in darkness. You cannot see much of what is going on. An early roadkill involving a wolf is shot almost entirely in darkness. Later, the camera focuses on a dark patch in a basement wall. This reviewer still has no idea why the cameraman was so concerned with this spot. Later, a night drive involves no headlights. So, the film is again in almost complete darkness. Someone needed to turn on a light switch somewhere throughout much of the film.

The premise of the film is not trying to make a solid point and the lighting is mostly off, but there are a few good qualities in the film. Barricade offers an atmospheric soundtrack, which maintains some of the tension. The performance from McCormack is also well done as the father. McCormack, as Mr. Shade, really captures how difficult fatherhood must be. He seems torn between protecting his children and offering sound advice during a crisis. These positive qualities kept the film interesting throughout.

Not to be nitpicky, but there is one more film element that must be mentioned. The film begins with a pretty standard dramatic sequence inside a house. There is no terrifying hook early. Then, the film transitions from a tight interior shot with light music to a wide aerial shot with dark atmospheric music. As well, the setting changes from an urban dwelling to a forest landscape. The change is quick and dramatic. This poor transition early kind of sets the tone for the rest of the film. It is often awkward.

Barricade has released on DVD as of September 25th and film fans might want to pass on this offering. There are many elements in the film that are less than sound. From transitions to lighting and then to story elements, this title seems like a hastily filmed production. Performances from the cast are well done, but this title needed a scarier villain who creates more than a cough and a few chills.

Overall: 5.9 out of 10 (short film, good acting, the story's premise is unsure, music is generally really good, way too dark in most scenes).

*filmed in Mannin Provincial Park (British Columbia).

**rated PG-13.

The film's fan page with more details can be found here:

Barricade on Facebook

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