Five things to know about ‘There’s Something in the Barn’, the fun Christmas horror set in Norway

Imagine a film that blends Gremlins with National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. Throw in a random cast of vaguely familiar faces, (including the wonderful Heneriette Steenrup from Viaplay’s Pernille), send them to the Norwegian mountains, and then pit them against evil elves. The result is There’s Something in the Barn a new yuletide horror tale that’s corny, gory and stupidly funny.

An American family move to a remote part of Norway after inheriting a cabin, and seek to live the Scandinavian dream as it heads towards Christmas. The dream soon turns into a nightmare when they find something already living on their property. Can they live harmoniously with this creature?

Here are five things you might like to know about There’s Something in the Barn:

1. Who is the director of There’s Something in the Barn?

Norwegian screenwriter and director Magnus Martens is internationally recognised for his ability to deliver violent action while remaining entertaining and savagely funny. He made his feature breakthrough with the slick comedy thriller Jackpot in 2011, which he wrote and directed based on a Jo Nesbø story.

Jackpot was praised for its deliciously dark style and he was even compared to Tarantino and the Coen brothers. Following Jackpot, Martens has directed multiple episodes for some of the biggest TV shows in the US, including Banshee, 12 Monkeys, Power, Marvel’s Luke Cage, Good Behavior, Will, and Fear the Walking Dead. Most recently he directed the first two episodes of the anticipated The Walking Dead: World Beyond which premiered in October 2020.

In 2021, Martens’ released the action thriller film SAS: Red Notice on Netflix, as well as drama series Furia on Viaplay.

2. Who are the cast and characters?

The great thing about There is Something in the Barn is the eclectic cast. First, you have the American family which is played by Martin Starr (Party Down), Amrita Acharia (Irri from Game of Thrones), Zoe Winther-Hansen (Catch and Release), and Townes Bunner in his debut performance.

There are some recognisable Norwegian faces such as brilliant Henriette Steenrup (Pernille and Ragnorak) and Calle Hellevang Larsen (a famous Norwegian comedian).

Then you have the excellent Kirah Shah who has been in everything from Star Wars films, The Dark Crystal, Andor, Chronicles of Narnia, and going right back to the likes of Legend, the Ridley Scott movie.

3. What on earth are Barn Elves?

The barn elf is a creature from Scandinavian folklore. The ‘Nisse’ is a short being that has an old man’s face and a white beard and is very elusive. He would usually live out in the barn and look after it for the farmer while he was asleep. If he is treated well he protects the farm, the family and the animals from misfortunes and evil. They like the dark so are often associated with winter and Christmas time.

Though they do not give gifts at Christmas, Nisser expects a very specific gift on Christmas Eve. They expect a bowl of porridge that must be piping hot, made with cream, topped with a spoon of sugar, a dust of cinnamon and a big pat of butter. 

A Nisse can have a bit of a temper if you upset them, or don’t make the porridge correctly, and can get up to mischief or harm the family that they should be protecting, so it’s advised to keep on their good side!

Fjøsnisse (Photo Credit: Julius Holck / National Library of Norway)

4. Where was it all filmed?

The film’s exterior shots were filmed in Ringebu, a picturesque municipality in Norway, located north of Oslo (but before you get to Trondheim). It transforms into a winter wonderland during the colder months, with snow-covered landscapes and pristine forests – which exactly what you will see in this movie. It is all real and not computer generated!

snow covered field

5. What are some the film’s influences?

We already mentioned that There’s Something in the Barn gives us definite Gremlins vibes, with little elusive creatures who can wreck havoc if you don’t follow the ‘rules’ for keeping them happy. The American family trying to have the perfect Christmas despite grumpy teenagers reminded us of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

The relationship that builds between the barn elf and the son of the family reminded us a bit of ET. The big fight scene that the film builds towards where the family battle a whole army of barn elves, destroying their festively decorated home in the process, started to feel a little like Home Alone.

We enjoyed what appeared to be nods to some cult classics where normal family meets mysterious creatures or intruders at Christmas time, and we loved the humour that was created from the culture clashes between Norway and the US.

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