In no time at all WWE studios seem to have collected a production catalogue of over 30 films, all with varying degrees of success. For every See No Evil (2006), there’s The Chaperone (2011), and with an upcoming slate that includes The Marine 4 and Jingle all the Way 2 – with Larry the Cable Guy replacing Arnie no less, they show little sign of abating. I must admit though, Barricade really appealed to me. It’s helmed by Andrew Currie who shot the excellent and little seen Fido (2006) where a young boy’s best friend is a mild mannered six foot tall zombie (Billy Connolly), and the premise seemed to have small scale character driven piece written all over it.
Beginning with a lush overhead autumnal shot of suburbia we meet the Shade family. Straight off the bat we find Leah (Thompson) suggesting to her husband Terrance (McCormack) that they go away for Christmas to an old cabin (actually a palatial two storey wood-built house) where she used to spend her winters. However, when we next see Terrance he’s driving the family car to the suggested lodge but without Leah. By the time he stops to pick up the keys for the cabin from the local store owner, we discover that his wife has passed away. To begin with we have no explanation of his wife’s death aside from a few flashbacks which gradually piece together what happened.
Terrance finally arrives at the shack in the dark of night and ushers in his children Cynthia (Dwelly) and Jake (Grantham), although they’re a little apprehensive at the prospect of isolation, and coupled with the odd creaking door and the sight of a few taxidermist creations, it’s not the most settling evening. Also as Terrance sees out the evening with a few beers, he’s sure he catches sight of a woman’s face on the window. Racing outside there’s nothing to be found, but what of the hand print that remains the following morning? What too of the strange hacking coughs that each of the family seems to have acquired? Cut off from civilisation and with a ferocious blizzard on the way, Terrance has some decisions to make to ensure the survival of his family.
Despite the great premise for Barricade as well as the handy running time, a sense of deep sighing boredom enters the fray about halfway in to the movie. It just feels so badly structured and lacking a defined narrative. The flashbacks to Terrance’s time spent with his wife don’t add anything to the film the way they’re scattered haphazardly around the movie, while the overall “is it a monster? Is it a virus? Is it a ghost?” theories distract from the central aspect of the picture which is essentially a guy attempting to revive his strained relationship with his kids.
Barricade should be claustrophobic and tense, but ends up just being frustrating and falls technically short with badly set up scenes and poor lighting. The ending attempts to clean things up a little but only leaves more questions unanswered. I think if this was a genuinely poor movie, I’d be happy to consign it to the DTV obscurity and forget about it forever. The problem is that Barricade had the ingredients for something memorable, which makes its failure all the more frustrating.