A father’s quiet retreat to the woods with his two children turns into a fight for survival.
The idea of a group or an individual trapped in a cabin situated in the middle of nowhere is not a new one. In face it has featured with great regularity across the horror genre from the slasher teen classic Friday 13th to the psycologically fraught Bug via the flesh dissolving disease in Cabin Fever. Now there is another film to use this premise as it’s base and try to live up to the heritage.
From WWE Studios comes Barricade directed by Andrew Currie who’s previous credits include the comedy horror Fido. The opening sets the scene of family life in the Shade household with father Terrence (Eric McCormack of Will & Grace fame) complaining to his wife Leah (Jody Thompson) of being out of touch with his two kids. Trying to help she suggests a trip to a cabin where Leah spent time as a child for them to bond. The credits now roll over images of a long drive giving the intended impression of a journey into isolation and we are told that a year has now passed. As the mother is not in the car with Eric and the children Cynthia (Conner Dwelly) and Jake (Ryan Grantham) the viewer assumes that something bad must have happened.
On the journey the weather deteriorates into a fierce snowstorm and, while distracted by Jake, their car hits an animal. When Terrence investigates he discovers a white wolf crippled from it’s injuries and snarling aggressively. As a strange fog surrounds the area Eric heads back to the car and sets off at pace soon arriving at the cabin, which is more of large house in reality. Following a nervous exploration of their surroundings, including the obligatory cellar, the children fall asleep on the sofa in front of the fire. When Terrence finds a photograph of his wife in his daughters things he begins to reminisce and suffers flashbacks. In the next moment he wakes up from an apparent nightmare and sees an icy handprint on the window pane, an image from his dream. After an ill-fated snowball fight and with all the family suffering from a cough they return to the cabin where strange occurrences continue. Now deciding to leave, and with none of the phones working, Terrence sends the children to get their things and plans to start the car before being foiled after discovering it buried in a snowstorm. They are now stranded, scared and sick, and with shadowy, strange figures visible outside in the trees. Terrence now proceeds to board up the doors and windows of the cabin to see out the storm.
Barricade is a pretty good attempt at a horror film but which falls short in the final act. The director builds suspense well on several occasions but then seems unsure how to properly capitalize on this. The scares are generally good if just a little too reliant on formulaic “boo” moments that many will see coming and the attempts to create a claustrophobic and unsettling atmosphere are only partially successful. The cast are strong throughout with Eric McCormack giving a strong performance as a man trapped in what appears to be a neverending nightmare and the children come down just on the right side of creepy.
What begins as an enjoyable and at times scary film slowly descends into confusion and an amalgamation of too many ideas. In the later scenes Barricade becomes almost a chase film with the characters running from room to room with no real understanding of why and distinction between the visions and reality becomes too blurred to follow clearly. The director, and presumably the writers, seemed unsure of where to take the film and we are left with too many questions and little explanation. The reveal when it comes is unsatisfactory and ultimately disappointing and I’m sure many viewers will be with me in still being unclear as to what really happened.
To conclude Barricade is a decent Saturday night horror that would be worth watching if there was nothing else on. I wouldn’t recommend making any great effort to seek it out but if you came across it after a few drinks you probably wouldn’t be too disappointed.