A horror film quite unlike anything you will ever see, Barbarian is a film that you need to see to believe. The movie stars Georgina Campbell as Tess Marshall, a woman who has rented a home while she is in Detroit on a job interview. Unfortunately for her, she discovers that another man is already staying in the rental. After some hesitation, she decides to still spend the night there with him, a decision that marks the start of a hellish journey.
Coming into the movie, I had not watched a single trailer; the only thing that I knew about the film was the synopsis, nothing else. This is a choice that I couldn’t be happier with because part of the appeal of Barbarian is the surprises that occur, of which there are a few. If you think you can guess what is actually happening in the movie right away, you are sorely mistaken, as there is no possible way to predict what is going to occur.
Campbell is the lead of the film, and she does an excellent job portraying a relatable character who gets put into a ridiculously crazy situation; she is a person who is easily identifiable for viewers to see themselves in. As this is a horror film, of course characters make questionable decisions that will cause people to groan. However, while the character of Tess does make these types of decisions, they are mostly understandable. Also, thanks to the compelling nature of Barbarian, even when Tess makes a decision that isn’t something you agree with, you don’t care because you want to see what happens next so badly that you’ll look past it. It’s a terrific way to overcome this problem that often plagues other horror movies.
Barbarian does also star horror icon Bill Skarsgard as Keith, the man renting the place when Tess shows up. Skarsgard is an old hand at this point, and does a perfect job with what he has to do with the role. I can’t really discuss his character any further without getting into spoiler territory, so I’ll leave it at that. The other main character of the film is AJ, portrayed by comedian Justin Long, who, along with Campbell and Skarsgard, does a great job, giving the film’s surprisingly hilarious moments that break the tension between the horrific ones. The fact that Barbarian can almost be described as a comedy definitely surprised me.
The comedy of Barbarian could’ve turned the movie into a joke, but thankfully it elevates the film by successfully luring the audience into a false sense of security. Screams and laughs have been thought of as being two sides of the same coin, so it makes perfect sense as to why humor, if done right in a horror movie, can be so effective. Not to mention that there are also moments that are so deliciously absurd and horrific that you can’t help but laugh at them. Long story short though, the humor works for Barbarian.
Writer/Director Zach Cregger managed to put together an intelligent script with the absurd visuals to match. I was a bit surprised to see that Barbarian has decently distinct acts to it, so it was interesting to see how the film put the parts together and what precisely the slight detours meant to the overall movie. Cregger’s directing is also top-notch, as he is able to linger during the events of the film to the perfect moment, allowing for the scares to be remarkably effective.
So I’ve been extremely positive thus far, but is there anything I didn’t like about the film? The answer is pretty much a no. The only thing that I wish the movie did was go a bit more into the backstory of what is happening, as some of it is not shown but instead told, which obviously breaks the “show, don’t tell” rule. However, this doesn’t happen much, so it is a minor critique of what is otherwise a compelling and thrilling film.
I wish that the film was longer, simply because I wanted to stay in this terrifying world a bit longer, and I have to say, I would enjoy seeing some sort of prequel to Barbarian be done. It would be fantastic to get to know more about some of the events going on that are a bit more glossed over than they could have been.
If you want to check out this absolutely bonkers movie, Barbarian comes to theaters this week, on Sept. 9. Again, try going into this film not looking up too much more of it, as I promise you it will be worth it. Even if you can’t help yourself, I’m sure you will still get significant enjoyment out of this wild new horror movie as seeing is truly believing when it comes to Barbarian.
Our Verdict: Must Watch
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