Never judge a book by its cover. Or, in this case, never judge a movie by its production company, unless it’s a movie by The Asylum. Barricade, written by Michaelbrent Collings, and directed by Andrew Currie, is a case in point. Right there in the opening credits, there it is: the logo for the WWE, Vince McMahon’s wrestling entertainment behemoth. Barricade is one of the growing stable of films released by WWE Studios, the Hollywood offshoot of the parent company. This company is responsible for such films as The Marine and See No Evil, both featuring WWE wrestlers in starring roles. Looking at their IMDb page, one of their upcoming, straight to video releases, will be Jingle All the Way 2. Oh, horror. On paper, Barricade doesn’t look all that promising. But, as any sports fan can tell a viewer, how a team looks on paper can differ substantially from what happens when the games are played.
Barricade follows Terrence Shade (Eric McCormack) and his two children, Cynthia and Jake (Conner Dwelly and Ryan Grantham), as they try to celebrate Christmas following the tragic death of their mother. Mom had some big plans for Christmas, wanting the family to spend the holidays at a cabin in the woods. Now that she’s dead, Terrence decides to carry out his wife’s wishes, and the deeply wounded family is off to the wilderness. Terrence is fairly strung out, chasing Scotch whisky with Xanax while his kids are in the room. That is some self-destructive behavior. There is no other way to put it. It can also lead to blackouts, from which Terrence begins to suffer. This is especially bad out in the woods, as it appears something…is out there, wanting to get in to the house.
Barricade breaks no new ground on either the cabin in the woods, the haunted house, or the tortured family tropes in horror cinema. But, there probably isn’t room for much more innovation there, anyway. The best a viewer can hope for is that they are seeing a good addition to the genre. Barricade, despite the pedigree of its production company, is a competent, and creepy, little horror film. At its best, it plays out like an above average episode of a horror anthology television series. It falls well short of something like The Conjuring or Insidious, but is much better than most of the dreck that gives horror a bad name.
The ideas behind the plot are pretty good. Currie does a good job confusing the main protagonist, Terrence, and the audience, as well. A bit more of a deft touch would have catapulted this movie to greater heights, and the ending felt like Collings was having trouble wrapping things up. Barricade is almost a mind-fuck movie, but they just missed pulling that off.
For his part, McCormack did well as a widower at the end of his wits. He swings back and forth from depression, to confusion, to mania, at an unsettling pace. If a viewer places themselves in the position of the children, seeing their father through their eyes, it becomes clear that whatever is outside the house, in the snow and woods, might not be the greatest threat present.
After all this faint praise, then, is the movie worth watching? That is the big question, isn’t it? There is nothing special about Barricade. It’s a small film that is quite competent, yet takes no narrative chances. It has a good amount of tension, but comes close to flubbing the ending. There are no big names attached to it, yet the star gives a professional performance. A film like Barricade has a hard time getting noticed because it’s not all that noticeable. It’s not great horror, but it doesn’t offend viewer sensibilities like schlock can.