The Barrens (film)

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The Barrens

Home video release poster
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Produced by Darren Lynn Bousman
Richard Saperstein
Brian Witten
Screenplay by Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring Stephen Moyer
Mia Kirshner
Allie MacDonald
Shawn Ashmore
Music by Bobby Johnston
Cinematography Joseph White
Edited by Erin Deck
The Genre Company
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release dates
  • September 28, 2012 (2012-09-28)
Running time
94 min
Country United States
Language English

The Barrens is a 2012 American horror film written and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and starring Stephen Moyer and Mia Kirshner.[1]

The film was released under different titles in several European territories: e.g. as Jersey Devil in the German-speaking countries and as The Forest in France and Belgium. In the UK the film was shown on The Horror Channel in January 2015 as Devil in the Woods.


Two young campers walk together through the woods, commenting that there are no animals or birds around. They discover a pile of mutilated deer carcasses left on the trail. They are chased by a mutilated deer that drops dead in front of them. Something sounding like a large swarm of birds is heard approaching.

Richard Vineyard, his wife Cynthia, his daughter Sadie, and his young son Danny leave their suburban home for a camping trip. They want to leave civilization behind and bond as a family in the Barrens, a forest in southern New Jersey. On the way to the campsite, they see a mutilated deer crossing the road. They stay in a crowded commercial campsite full of obnoxious campers who are not inclined to abandon civilization: cell phones and loud music abound. While setting up his tent, Richard has a flashback to a traumatic event from his childhood that occurred in the Barrens. Later that evening, when a fellow camper tells a story of the Jersey Devil, the campers pull a prank that scares the Vineyard family. Richard overreacts, much to the embarrassment of the rest of the family.

That night, Richard has a nightmare in which he is being chased through a field by something unseen. He is awakened by Cynthia in the middle of the forest, having actually run from their tent while asleep. He accuses his wife of infidelity; she doesn't understand his suspicion and tries to reassure him. Richard apologizes. Cynthia returns to the tent and Richard goes for a walk. He sees a deer carcass fall from a tree.

Several facts are revealed in conversation the next day. Richard is taking pain medication for a wound received before they left home. Cynthia is stepmother to his children. One of the campers involved in the prank the previous night is missing. The hikers from the opening scene were found dead the previous week. Richard, who appears weakened by pain, leads his family deeper into the forest to a new camp site.

While resting, Danny finds the disemboweled corpse of the missing camper but says nothing. Richard begins hallucinating and becomes irritable. They find a campsite containing a decomposed dog and furs hanging to dry, but no people. They decide to set up camp there. Richard disposes of the dog, and discovers that another camper, Ryan, has been following them and is communicating secretly with Sadie by cell phone. Richard returns to the campsite and tries to take Sadie's cell phone away. Cynthia announces that they are going home the next day. That night, Sadie searches for Ryan. She is frightened by something in the woods. It is revealed in conversation that Richard killed the family's rabid dog before they left home because it bit him. Richard’s mental state deteriorates.

Richard sleepwalks again, awakening surrounded by mist. The Jersey Devil appears behind him. Richard gathers the family and they leave immediately, but Danny and Richard disappear. Cynthia calls the police, and she and Sadie discover Ryan's disemboweled corpse; Richard’s knife is next to the body. They find Danny face down in the river, but are able to resuscitate him. Richard returns but has a seizure. He attacks Cynthia and breaks her leg. Sadie knocks him unconscious and ties him up. Sadie and Danny leave to find help, leaving the injured Cynthia with her hysterical husband.

Richard breaks free of his bonds. Cynthia passes out from the pain. Richard sees the Jersey Devil again. Sadie and Danny are found by a hunter who summons the police. The police find the bodies of the missing campers. Cynthia knocks out Richard with a rock. Cynthia is attacked by something unseen. The hunter, Sadie and Danny find Richard and Cynthia. The unseen entity attacks again and knocks out the hunter, but Cynthia and the children escape. As the police reach the campsite, Richard turns on his family with a loaded gun. He sees the Jersey Devil behind them. For the first time, the others see it as well. Richard attempts to shoot it, but he is shot by the sheriff. The Jersey Devil attacks and kills the sheriff and then turns on the Vineyards.

An epilogue following the closing credits reveals that Sadie and Danny survive in police custody. An officer questions Sadie about the events in the forest; no one believes her claim that the Jersey Devil is responsible. Sadie, who is not under arrest, joins a forest ranger and other hunters to avenge her parents' deaths and end the threat of the Jersey Devil.



Bousman penned the script shortly after finishing Saw II.[2]

Bousman originally intended to shoot the film in the actual Pine Barrens of New Jersey, but filming eventually took place in the Toronto, Ontario area for budgetary reasons with the cast and crew mainly staying in the town of Caledon.[3] Three different forests were used for the woods.

The film was planned to be shot in 20 days. However, two days were lost due to severe rainfall. As some of the actors and crew members had other commitments immediately following after, it had to be filmed in 18 days instead. All the daylight scenes at the campsite were filmed on a single day.

Home media

The Barrens was released on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download on October 9, 2012. Included on the Blu-ray and DVD releases is an audio commentary with director Darren Lynn Bousman and cinematographer Joseph White, as well as a deleted scene which serves as an alternative ending. In this ending, it is revealed that Sadie and Danny survived the attack by the Jersey Devil. As winter sets in, Sadie, Ranger Bob, and several others set off into the barrens, armed to the teeth, to hunt the Jersey Devil. Director Bousman considers this ending not to be canon, joking that those scenes will be "saved for the sequel".


  1. SNEIDER, JEFF (Sep 15, 2011). "'True Blood's Stephen Moyer takes on Jersey Devil". VanityFair. Retrieved September 21, 2011.
  2. Stephen Moyer Off To The Barrens Empire Online
  3. Sneak A Peek At True Blood's Stephen Moyer In The Barrens Cinema Blend
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