Starring Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgard, Justin Long
Scott’s Review #1,335
Reviewed January 19, 2023
Though there are some exceptions, it can be tough to differentiate many modern horror films from one another. Maybe it’s age catching up to me but many of them run together or lack a novel subject that makes them memorable past a couple of days.
Supernatural beings seem to be a standard flavor so it’s quite refreshing to watch a movie like Barbarian (2022) which offers an original storyline with a straight-ahead premise.
You might say the events could happen in ‘real life’ with some suspensions of disbelief to endure.
The twists and turns make Barbarian edge-of-your-seat with some genuinely scary moments. It’s a nice feeling when I can’t predict the ending or am surprised in some way by a horror film’s outcome.
There are major plot points and numerous questions to ponder but this is forgivable because the film takes the viewer on a fun journey into the unexpected.
Horror genre fans alike should enjoy this spooky entry and I know I’ll never go to Detroit, Michigan without thinking of this film.
Tess Marshall (Georgina Campbell) travels to Detroit for a job interview, having booked an Airbnb in a residential area. But when she arrives late at night in a driving rainstorm she discovers that the house is inhabited by a strange man named Keith (Bill Skarsgard) who insists he is also renting the house.
Suspicious, but unable to reach her contacts or find another place to stay, she decides to spend the evening, sharing a bottle of wine with the stranger.
They retire to bed (separately) but when she wakes to find her bedroom door ajar she discovers that there’s more to fear than Keith.
A lot more.
I wondered what I would do if faced with the same circumstance. Would I sit in my car all night certain to be sleep deprived and bomb an important job interview? Or, enjoy an inviting glass of wine, the company of a handsome stranger, and the comfort of a warm bed?
The first section of the film deals with this before spinning into another direction which is what makes the film so pleasurable.
As an unearthed portion of the house is uncovered Tess is continually faced with more questions usually involving fleeing from the house or staying and saving other people.
The introduction of AJ (Justin Long) a Los Angeles actor who owns the house almost makes the audience forget about Keith or the initial storyline especially when other dubious characters like a rapist and deformed woman named ‘Mother’ make their appearance midway through.
The dark, foreboding passageways to nowhere, familiar territory in horror are given fresh life by the use of flashlights and tape measures making the viewer unsure of who or what could be around the corner.
I love how the current rundown neighborhood, now avoided by the police and forgotten by everyone else is seen back in the 1980s with well-manicured lawns and freshly painted houses.
This backstory connects to current events which made me feel invested.
There’s even a shred of sympathy given to the main villain.
Where things falter is when I try to add up the logicality of the situation. Nobody eats in this film as the plausibility of finding food before starvation is nill.
Also, when history is revealed, the many living things residing below the house are nowhere to be found. Where are they or what happened to them?
Finally, Tess, while an intelligent woman, makes more than one bungled decision that lands her in continuous trouble.
Surprisingly, director Zach Cregger is new to filmmaking and simply had an idea that spiraled into Barbarian (2022). If he gets his story points straightened out he could have a bright future in the world of cinema.