20th Century Studios

Movie Review: Barbarian

12:00 September 14, 2022
By: David Vicari

Barbarian is like two different movies that have been successfully crossbred. The first one is a quiet, you-can-hear-a-pin-drop thriller, and then the second is...well, it will ruin the experience of seeing the movie if I say too much. However, I will tell you that there is a scene in the second half in which a character not only has their arm ripped from its socket, but they are then beaten with the bloody limb.

This horror movie opens, appropriately, on a rainy night as Tess Marshall (Georgina Campbell) attempts to get into the rental house that she booked. The front door key isn't where it should be, but she sees that someone is inside the house. It turns out that the place was rented to someone else as well. By mistake? Anyway, the occupant, a strange young man named Keith (Bill Skarsgård), tells Tess that she can stay the night, and that they can figure out things with the rental snafu in the morning. Even though she feels a bit uneasy about the situation, Tess does agree to stay the night. As bad luck would have it, it appears that Tess and Keith are not alone in the house. Of course, the characters have to do something stupid to move the plot along, and that is to explore the dark basement.

At the midway point, a new character, AJ (Justin Long), is dropped into the movie. AJ is a Hollywood actor, and is accused of rape by an actress he has worked with. AJ also owns the property where Tess and Keith are staying.

That is all I can say about the plot. Just know that this movie gets bonkers. Imagine if someone made a good little thriller, then a sequel was ordered and the filmmakers, not wanting to repeat themselves, made a balls-to-the-wall gore fest as the follow up. Barbarian's writer/director Zach Cregger seems to have said, "Screw it!" and crushed two movies into one. Now, it is somewhat jarring when Barbarian switches gears halfway through, and I can see why some viewers may not like it, but I think it works.

With Barbarian, Cregger examines toxic masculinity, and it is not presented

in a subtle whisper, but more like a guttural scream. Its message is totally in-your-face here, and I prefer that to the rather pretentious style of Alex Garland's recent film, Men. I had fun with Barbarian. It's suspenseful, darkly funny, and has good performances.

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