You Have no Idea What You’re Getting Into...
Tess flies to Detroit for a job interview on a stormy night but finds she cannot enter her Airbnb when she arrives. Her security code works, but the key is missing. She almost drives away, but then the lights come on in the house before a man greets her at the door. Keith is tall and handsome, but odd. The two discover that they were mistakenly cross-booked for the same house, an error on the booking authority’s part. Keith offers to share the space with Tess, and she reluctantly accepts. The two hit it off well, but neither can explain the weird occurrences, like the strange homeless man that harasses Tess, her bedroom door hanging open in the middle of the night or finding the secret room in the basement. What is this house, and what happened here?
Barbarian is a low-budget film that should have flown under the radar, but a trailer at Comic-Con skyrocketed this film to the top of every horror fan’s to-do list. The trailer alone gave nothing away. Viewers only thought they knew what to expect when entering the theaters. This is a movie that subverts every expectation and leaves one guessing what will happen next. But is it worth the price of admission?
Is the Plot a Scattered Mess?
Quite the opposite. Things get crazy, but for the most part the story is easy to follow. The movie starts with Tess arriving at her Airbnb to discover it is already inhabited. Viewers are given every indication she should not trust Keith, understandably. This dynamic rides on the audience knowing of Bill Skarsgard’s portrayal as the vicious Pennywise the Dancing Clown from IT. Tension mounts straight from the jump but is occasionally dispersed only to be reintroduced at alarming speeds. What makes this story great is that it takes viewers to places where they feel they can anticipate what the remaining movie will be, causing viewers to lower their guard before leading to the next startling twist. Barbarian bobs and weaves relentlessly away from predictability from beginning to end. It’s a little hectic, but not enough to derail the movie. This picture is not just scary either, as Barbarian does come with a reasonable amount of silliness used expertly to preserve the tension. This movie is not categorized as a horror comedy, but it may very well be the best there is.
Can You Root for the Characters?
Neither Keith nor Tess come with backstories. Tess is hinted to have a relationship back home, but it’s never delved into. The only thing learned about Keith is his claim to be in Detroit for a wine festival and nothing more. As simple as they may be, these characters are not one-dimensional. Tess is stern but not unkind. She is brave and willing to risk her life for people she just met because she feels it’s right, even if the danger is more than anyone can handle. Although awkward and suspicious, Keith can also be endearing and perhaps even a little charming. But maybe he needs to be to get others to lower their guard. Then there is the third main character AJ Gilbride, played by Justin Long. AJ’s introduced through a jump cut that may catch some off guard, but it doesn’t detract from the story. His character isn’t entirely likable, nor is he supposed to be. Although, he does have a certain charm to him. He’s a controversial sort of person that could either help or harm. The audience must decide which of these they would prefer. Just remember that this is a film made to shock. Anything can happen with this cast of characters.
Is Barbarian as Chilling as They Say?
In horror, it’s almost rare to not know what happens next. Too often, movies follow formulas all too familiar and reminiscent of something superior. Director Zach Cregger wanted to avoid this at all costs while writing Barbarian, and boy, did he succeed. Keep in mind the comedic elements of this film because things get grotesquely weird and uniquely scary. This particular movie thrives on tension and the element of surprise. It almost seems to change subgenres halfway through, leaving viewers as shocked as the characters trying to make it to the end. It is almost hard to say how good it is without giving anything away, but it needs to be seen to be believed. Don’t be surprised to feel gross throughout the 107-minute runtime, as right away, the viewer is forced into discomfort. The imagery and implications of things seen and not seen are enough to make anyone uneasy. A touch of revulsion carries continuously and refuses to dissipate and can make anyone feel the need for a bath afterward. In closing, beware that things are not as they appear, and that danger is only ever surface deep.
Barbarian is a must for any horror fan out there and is sure to be a favorite. It’s no wonder that it has become a sleeper hit in such a short amount of time. In a time where most films are either adaptations, remakes, reboots, or cheap copies, Barbarian is a terrifying breath of fresh air that even non-horror fans can appreciate. The film is currently in theaters, but it has already dropped on HBO Max for everyone to enjoy just in time for Halloween.
Barbarian (2022) Official Trailer
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|Senior editor of Dead Talk News and University of Central Oklahoma graduate. Dakota specializes in news, entertainment pieces, reviews, and listicles.|