There's always something irresistible about a horror comedy set at Christmas, the likes of Gremlins and Krampus providing plenty of thrills amidst all the festive cheer. There's Something in the Barn is this year's offering and the results aren't half bad.

The Nordheim family fulfills their dream of moving back after inheriting a remote cabin in the middle of the mountains of Norway; only Nora (Zoe Winther-hansen), the teenage daughter, is angry about leaving her friends behind. Carol (Amrita Acharia), the stepmother, is trying to put on a happy face for the family, while Bill (Martin Starr), the father of Nora and Lucas (Townes Bunner), is just excited for the adventure and mostly oblivious to the obstacles. In their new home, Lucas stumbles on the strange creatures living in the barn, revealed to be elves. A local man tells Lucas about a local legend where elves must follow three very important "Barn Elf Rules", which Lucas also tries to enlighten his family with. However, they ignore him and proceed to break all three rules, leading to gruesome consequences.
Let's be honest, there's one thing that people are wanting to see when viewing There's Something in the Barn; elves causing chaos at Christmas. It takes a while for the film to get going, a fair bit of time spent watching the family (annoying as they may be) settle into their new surroundings. It's essential to the film yet it suffers for it, mainly down to the fact they aren't compelling enough as characters and they're as disposable as they come in these films.

It isn't until the final act when things kick into gear and the film is all the better for it. It won't become a Christmas classic but what it does do is save the film from becoming entirely forgettable. An angry mob of elves assembling to terrorise the family is the undeniable highlight and it delivers some festive insanity. It almost became another Unwelcome where it just meanders into nothingness but thankfully it doesn't.
The performances are not exactly what I'd call a strength for the film. As harsh as it sounds, I don't think they're helped by a mediocre script and the film taking too long to get to its endgame. Martin Starr is the most recognisable face as the father of the family but his performance is so awkward at times. It's supposed to be, I get that, but it almost feels like he didn't know exactly how to play it. Henriette Steenstrup is the standout from a supporting cast of oddball locals welcoming the family to the area, her police officer wonderfully inept.

As I've said previously, There's Something in the Barn won't become a Christmas classic however, given a chance, it offers a fun Christmas offering when it find its feet. It aims for the heights of Gremlins but they'd tear these elves to pieces.

Verdict: ★★★


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