Category Archives: robert dunbar
The Barrens ~ There has never been a decent movie made about the Jersey Devil. There have been more than a few duds, usually made by folks who either don’t live here or don’t know anything about the legend. Research is so important. I’m convinced that until a film is made of “The Pines” by Robert Dunbar (and done right), there probably won’t ever be a good movie on our local legend ever made.
|The real Pine Barrens|
Case in point – Anchor Bay’s The Barrens, written and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, a Kansas native, and a veteran of three Saw movies, and Repo! The Genetic Opera. I could just stop there, I suppose, but I’ll also add that he chose to film this horror flick, set in the South Jersey Pine Barrens, in Toronto. Yes, Toronto. To his credit, he wanted to film on location, but Toronto was cheaper. The Pine Barrens is an area that looks nothing like any other place on earth, for those not from here. The trees are stunted, not tall. So much for authenticity.
Also known as The Forest, and The Jersey Devil, the film has Stephen Moyer, vampire Bill Compton from HBO’s “True Blood,” as a British dad in the States who forces his family – second wife Mia Kirshner, teenage daughter, and young son, none of whom want to go – on a camping trip into the Pine Barrens like he used to do with his dad when he was a kid.
|Where am I supposed to be from again?|
I spent a lot of time trying to figure what vampire Bill’s accent was supposed to be. It should have been British, but was it Australian? But he’s not Australian, is he? It was very distracting. I know that Moyer can do an American accent. So why confuse the audience?
The saddest part of the film, for folks like me, is that this Kansas clown can’t even get the legend of the Jersey Devil right. It’s a very simple story, but he’s got witches, evil spirits and Indian legends mixed in there. And since when does JD butcher deer? It’s not even the right kind of deer. A little research please?
Anyway, apparently Bill is a bit troubled, more than a little disturbed actually, traumatized by something that happened in the Barrens years ago when he was a kid, or a dog bite. By guess who, yeah, duh. I saw it miles away too. Even his family thinks he’s nuts, they’re just trying to be really calm about it – you know, the way you tiptoe around a crazy person. All in all, it’s the predictability of the story that is most disappointing.
The last half-hour of the movie is seemingly endless. And for the most part, pointless. I couldn’t wait for this to be over with. Again I suppose we will have to wait for Robert Dunbar‘s “The Pines” to be made into a film for a good movie on the Jersey Devil. This isn’t it, The Barrens is just a sad excuse for a horror flick. Skip it.
For the record, I think there are more bears in New Jersey than there are mountain lions, Native Americans, or Jersey Devils. And Oswego is not a trail, or a river – it’s a lake. Research, people, research!
There’s never been a really good movie about the Jersey Devil, and there are damned few good books. “The Pines” by Robert Dunbar is really the only fiction one that springs to mind. “The Jersey Devil” by James F. McCloy and Ray Miller is probably the best among the non-fiction books on the legend. And as far as movies go, there have been a few, all awful, the worst of the bunch about a decade ago was called 13th Child and struck a new low in cinema.
This one, The Barrens features “True Blood” star Stephen Moyer playing a man who takes his family camping and finds himself convinced he’s being stalked by the Jersey Devil. Even the trailer, just a few seconds over two minutes long, is already full of inaccuracies about the legend. I’m a South Jersey boy, I should know.
The worst mistake of all is in the title itself. The Barrens referred to are the Pine Barrens, so called because of the short stunted trees in the region, not at all like the ones we see in the trailer depicting the Ontario, Canada location. As yet, the film has no release date.