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Film / The Barrens

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The Barrens is a 2012 horror film based on The Jersey Devil. It stars Stephen Moyer, Mia Kirshner, Erik Knudsen, Shawn Ashmore, Athena Karkanis, Allie Mcdonald, Peter Dacuhna, and J. Larose. It focuses on a Horrible Camping Trip story.

Richard Vineyard and his wife Cynthia, as well as his daughter Sadie and young son Danny, are shown leaving suburban home to go on a camping trip, hoping to remove themselves from civilization and bond together in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. They run into other campers who tell them the story of The Jersey Devil, and of course, strange things begin to occur; mutilated animals appear and Richard's sanity takes a toll for the worse.


Tropes in The Barrens include:

  • Adult Fear:
    • For the Vinyard family, going into the woods, specifically off-trail from a more populated campsite. Aside from the fact the forest is the home of an infamous monster, there have been a series of animal attacks attributed by bears and cougars, which is dangerous enough on its own. Richard, the father of the family, is the one leading them into these very dangerous woods and is gradually fore-fitting basic rationality. We then find out that Richard is dying of rabies, and because it was untreated, he's becoming more and more paranoid and hostile. He may have also been endangering his six-year-old son, who at one point is found face down in the water.
    • For Richard, he's suffering from the paranoid belief that a legendary monster is stalking him and his family. He had a childhood encounter with the monster and is afraid that it's been following him ever since. Towards the end of the film, we find out the Jersey Devil is real, and has been following the family throughout their trip. Richard is shot and fatally wounded when the Jersey Devil is threatening his family and is unable to protect them. The Jersey Devil than charges in on the family as they huddle together. Mercifully, as The Stinger shows, Sadie and Danny survived.
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  • Anti-Villain: Richard ends up being this of a sympathetic variety. Sure, he becomes irrational, aggressive and puts his family in peril over the course of the film. At the end of it, he's just a man trying to reconnect with his family, and slowly going insane from rabies, and is trying to protect his family from a monster he believes is stalking him. On top of that we find out his paranoia is justified due to the Jersey Devil actually being real.
  • Asian Airhead: Sadie's friend Laura.
  • Bastard Bastard: In the rendition of the Jersey Devil legend, told by the campers, the Jersey Devil is the bastard offspring of Satan.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted. One of the two campers in the film's intro, Erica, is black but she and her white husband live. Another black character seen later in the film, Dave, does die but he isn't the first out of his group killed.
  • Crazy Survivalist: Wyatt Burns is a lonely hunter who set up in the Pine Barrens, and is described as such by the rangers and the cops.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The bodies people and animals are found all over the forest, mostly disemboweled. In the case of one unfortunate deer, said death wasn't immediately killed.
  • Death from Above: Mutilated deer carcasses tend to drop from the sky.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Richard, who gradually becomes the villain over the film. The actual protagonists turn out to be Cynthia and Sadie.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: As always, none of these horrible things would have happened if the characters stayed out of the woods. And of course, Richard isnists the family push deeper into the woods to camp away from any other people.
  • Good All Along: Wyatt Burns is a Crazy Survivalist hunter, and is set up as a Red Herring for the slaughtered animals. This is before he meets Sadie and Danny in the woods, and tries to rescue them from what he thinks is their deranged father.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: At the end of the film, the Jersey Devil bears down on Sadie and Danny, but The Stinger shows that they survived. Not only that, but Sadie is planning on joining a group of hunters in hunting it down.
  • The Jersey Devil: The mythical creature said to inhabit the New Jersey Pine Barrens, in real life and in the film.
  • Mama Bear: For the most part, Cynthia is only concerned, understanding, and mildly cautious with Richard upon finding out he has rabies and is behaving abnormally. It isn't until she thinks he put Danny in danger and nearly drowned does she become angry and aggressive towards Richard, having him physically restrained.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": When the Jersey Devil is revealed to be real. Multiple people see it as it advances towards the family. Everyone either panics and runs, is frozen in mortified terror, or in Richard's case, critically wounded.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: With the revelation that Richard is suffering from untreated rabies, we are thrown into question as to whether or not the Jersey Devil is actually on the loose. One of the symptoms of rabies is hallucinations, which Richard begins suffering from around the time he starts seeing the Jersey Devil. On top of that, there are discussions of black bears also being sighted in the Pine Barrens, as well as a supposed crazy hunter living in the wilderness, and there's also a Mountain Lion on the loose. For most of the movie, it's unclear if the Jersey Devil is actually real or if there's some rational explanation behind these events, up until...
    • Real After All: The films last few minutes make it clear that the Jersey Devil is, in fact, real, and is very much behind the killings.
  • Overprotective Dad: Richard isn't too keen on Sadie hanging out with a boy named Ryan, and is generally annoyed at the boy. When he finds out that she's been texting him from the woods, he tries to throw her phone away and intimidates Ryan with his own version of the Jersey Devil origin story.
  • The Reveal: Richard was bitten by a dog with rabies early on into the film, and was suffering from it throughout the film.
    • It turns out he saw the Jersey Devil as a kid, and it's existence is confirmed in the last few minutes.
  • Sanity Slippage: Richard on account of untreated rabies. Due to not getting them treated, he becomes more paranoid, hostile, and irrational over the course of the film. On top of that he starts hallucinating, which begs the question if he's actually seeing the Jersey Devil before it turns out to be real.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: What the two campers at the beginning, Dale, and Erica, do when the stuff starts getting weird. This ends up saving their lives.
  • Shoot the Dog: Richard reveals to his wife that he secretly killed the family dog after it bit him. As it turns out the dog was already dying of rabies and infected Richard.
  • The Stinger: Danny and Sadie survived the Jersey Devil's attack and Sadie is planning on joining the hunters to kill it.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Over the course of the film, Richard's patience grows short and he becomes more aggressive and by the end of the film, his sanity is barely intact. Because he's suffering from rabies.
  • The Un-Twist: The Jersey Devil turning out to be real is not only predictable on its own but the attempts to throw us off fall kind of flat when you have things liked mutilated deer falling from the trees.


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