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There's Something in the Barn


Stars: Martin Starr, Amrita Acharia, Townes Bunner, Zoe Winther-Hansen, Kiran Shah, Henriette Steenstrup, Paul Monaghan, Calle Hellvang Larsen

Director: Magnus Martens

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation meets Scandi comedy-fantasy-horror, and it's fun for a good while. An American family inherits a house in Norway and Dad decides they'll go to live there. Bill (Starr) is actually a lot like Clark Griswold. He wears a Christmas jumper with a moose on it, lights his new house up like a fairyland and trudges out into the snow so that the family can have their very own living Christmas tree.

'Norway will grow on you,' Bill reassures his stroppy daughter (Winther-Hansen). 'The only things that will grow on me here are icicles,' she complains.

However in the barn lives a (very touchy) barn elf (Shah), who will become hostile at the slightest upset, having already dispatched the previous owner. A local resident (Larsen), who doesn't really believe in the creatures, relates the legend on how to treat elfs kindly, and not subject them to light, noise or other things that might cause offence.

Of course, as with the mogwai in Gremlins, the Americans break all the rules and, after Dad eats his son's porridge elf-peace offering, are soon under siege from the now-savage little guy and a whole colony of his comrades who live in a maze of tunnels behind the barn.

Some gory deaths ensue, although the film retains just enough humour to keep things fairly light. But the creatures' drunken orgy after finding the American's stock of booze, goes on too long, as does the final battle itself; tighter editing and a 90-minute runtime was needed here.

'Ah well,' says Mom (Acharia) at the end, 'we've had worse Christmases.' They have? I'd hate to see one.

David Quinlan

Norway/Finland/USA 2023. UK Distributor: Vertigo (Sony). Colour by DCP.
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 27 Nov 2023