“There’s Something In The Barn” is a Norwegian-Finnish Christmas horror comedy that follows an American nuclear family’s misadventures after inheriting a farmhouse and its inhabited barn in Norway. The Nordheim family’s plan to transform the barn into a small hotel takes an unexpected turn when they encounter a fjøsnisse, a mischievous barn elf.
The film kicks off with the Nordheims – Bill (Martin Starr), Carol (Amrita Acharia), Nora (Zoe Winther-Hansen), and Lucas (Townes Bunner) – as they embark on their journey to the new home. Their lack of awareness and common sense, humorously displayed while taking selfies with a road sign warning of elks, sets the tone for their chaotic experiences ahead.
During their initial town visit, young Lucas discovers the existence of barn elves and the necessary rules for peaceful coexistence. However, the family inadvertently breaks these rules, triggering chaos when Bill consumes Lucas’s peace offering to the fjøsnisse.
Amidst bloody violence and adversity, the film portrays a family bonding and overcoming their dysfunctionality in a Christmas setting. Despite the film’s blend of humor and horror, wavering between a kids’ movie and teenage-targeted horror, the acting remains a standout. Townes Bunner impresses as Lucas, while Henriette Steenstrup delivers scene-stealing moments as the local cop.
However, the film’s enjoyment might be affected by its underlying subtext regarding the Palestine conflict, drawing parallels between the fjøsnisse representing Palestinians and the Nordheims symbolizing Jewish immigrants. References to the Oslo Accords and the conflict’s mention in the script create a thematic backdrop that converges as the American family settles into their ancestral home, while the barn elves seek refuge in a local museum.
It’s important to note the timing of the film’s premiere at Fantastic Fest, preceding the eruption of hostilities. The film’s exploration of these themes, amidst its comedic horror narrative, could provoke discomfort given the sensitive context of real-world conflicts.