In the digital age, we don’t think twice about getting into strangers’ cars via Uber or staying in strangers’ houses via sites like Airbnb. However, the horror genre is there to give us all the adequate fright we need to remind us of just how insane these phenomena truly are. Zach Cregger’s Barbarian takes us on an incredibly wild ride of subverting expectations, ridiculous laughs, and gruesome terrors!
Opening on a dark and rainy night, Tess (Georgina Campbell) arrives at the house she’s rented with Airbnb, only to find that not only is the key not in the lockbox, but that someone else is already staying there, Keith (Bill Skarsgård). He invites her in from the rain but the awkwardness and tension is off the charts right from the get go.
Both acknowledge that clearly someone made a mistake since they both have legitimate bookings (albeit from different sites), but the suspense of two strangers in a dark and creepy house oozes tension that you can feel with each passing breath.
However, what Barbarian does best is set you up to expect one thing, and then completely shift into a different direction you had no idea was coming. And unfortunately there’s no real way to discuss that without completely spoiling the movie. So all we’ll say is that the plot takes intriguing twists and turns, and the movie also features great performances from Justin Long and Richard Brake, in roles we can’t even discuss.
The one thing we can say is that this movie’s tone is a bit all over the place, but it kind of works for it. While it never gets as over the top as something like Evil Dead, Barbarian certainly plays with the back and forth between comedy and horror. There are moments of unabashed terror sprinkled with character moments that make you chuckle and want to yell at them through the screen (particularly with Justin Long’s performance).
It also boasts some spectacular makeup designs, as well as stunts and effects that appeared to be practical rather than CGI. The film really makes use of its creepy house location, with most of the action taking place there, you never feel tired of it, and you really feel the claustrophobia that the characters do.
When it does jump around in location and theme, it makes use of really creative POV camerawork that puts you in the scene as well. Some shots linger just long enough to make you uncomfortable and that’s very much the point. All of this, along with a third act that you will absolutely love or hate, definitely makes Barbarian one of the most memorable horror films of the year.
It’s a great movie to see with a group of people so you can all leap from your seat during the jump scares, and laugh/yell at the screen when characters make dumb but genuinely hilarious decisions!
What did you think of Barbarian? Let us know in the comments!