Every year horror fans are inundated with a slew of holiday-themed horror, with a select few becoming instant classics. Even at Fantastic Fest, where we caught There’s Something in The Barn, it was not the only holiday-themed horror film in the line-up (Check out our review of The Uncle). However, many of these films fall through the cracks and become forgotten in the fray of attempts to craft that next classic or at least try to turn a profit as film fans load up their festive viewing parties with new material. Magnus Martens’ There’s Something in The Barn aims to make a name for itself by blending the nostalgia of films like Gremlins with a more family and traditional approach, with a bit of chaos thrown in the mix. 

Following a familiar plot of a family unit making a life change during the holidays, There’s Something in The Barn sees a family of four inheriting a home in Norway they are looking to transform into a BnB. When the youngest comes across the legend of the elves of Norway and meets one in their barn, he tries to barter a peace deal with it to keep his family safe. However, as plans for the BnB move forward, and after a night of partying to draw in the locals, the Elf turns on the family, bringing a horde of his kin to kill the family.


There’s Something in The Barn is a film that sometimes feels at odds with itself, trying to balance nostalgia for more kid-friendly horror, while adding spats of violence to appease an older audience. Unfortunately, it comes out quite confused, seemingly unwilling to pick one path.  Omitting a couple of minutes from the film could easily warrant the film a PG rating and would be the ideal holiday treat for those with kids or nieces/nephews they want to introduce to horror. Realistically, the film will likely sit at a PG-13 release on release, which will still have some parents letting their younger kids watch the movie. 

While it may seem blasphemous to many, the preferred approach here would have been to cut the few instances of violence/blood and mature dialogue and just try to craft a genuinely family-friendly, light-horror Christmas film. As it stands, it is not a film worth revisiting for gorehounds or fans of horror-comedies because the bulk of the movie is steeped in traditional values around celebrating the holidays and family values. Nothing is wrong with this approach or themes, but it puts the film in a peculiar place where its best attributes are limited by a need to add some flash for more hardened horror fans.

This is a shame considering how well-written and executed the movie is. The plot is generally intriguing and wholesome without being too hokey. The family has legitimate problems they’re working through on top of their change of location, and each actor makes the family dynamic feel authentic. In particular, Martin Starr and Amrita Acharia as the mother and father, are charming and able to play the slightly silly attributes of their personas with sincerity. Visually, the film pops, and the interactions with the elves are the perfect mix of humorous and somewhat terrifying thanks to the visual pallet and set design—they even have a little stone village.

As great as There’s Something in The Barn can be, its approach lets it down. Christmas horror films’ success lies in their revisitablity, and if you ask any horror fan, they will have their go-to’s they check out every year. Unfortunately, the talented creative team of director Magnus Martens and writer Aleksander Kirkwood Brown craft a solid film, but not one that will resonate with viewers for years to come. It’s fun to check out once, especially if you are a horror movie-obsessed parent who is okay with a bit of blood and swearing.


We Watched There’s Something in The Barn as Part of the 2023 Fantastic Film Festival

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