Moviegoers in the mood for a twisty horror flick need look no further than Barbarian, written and directed by Zach Cregger. The film stars Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long, Matthew Patrick Davis, Richard Brake, Kurt Braunohler, Jaymes Butler, and J.R. Esposito.
Campbell plays Tess, a young woman who is surprised to find that the rental home she has booked was actually rented by someone else as well. What is she to do? The other houseguest in question is nervous and socially awkward Keith (Skarsgård) who appears just as surprised as she is. It doesn’t take long before Tess realizes that there’s more to be frightened of than an unexpected lodger.
Barbarian has been kept under wraps, to make sure the audience knows as little as possible before settling into the cushy theater seats, and for good reason. Unlike other horror movies, the twists aren’t merely gimmicky. The twists and turns in the film prove to be well-timed, well-executed, and orchestrated just right to help the storyline and the pacing.
One of the movie’s stand-out aspects is the tight storytelling. Every scene is there for a reason. Each word is said on purpose. Yes, there are some big reveals but more than that, the story will keep audiences guessing throughout the entire 102-minute run time. Cregger does a great job creating a film that will toy with the audiences’ emotions and sympathies. To think, this is his feature film debut to boot.
Georgina Campbell does an excellent job as Tess, a plucky and resourceful young woman looking to start the next big era of her life. Her screams are genuine and her shaky voice (as she calls out for Keith) will both break the audience’s heart but also serve to pump more adrenaline into their veins. Bill Skarsgård does an equally wonderful job as stranger Keith. He toys with the audience’s feelings and does a great job playing a nice guy with just a hint of “stranger danger.”
Some of the best horror films aren’t the ones where the on-screen gore pushes the boundaries of viewer consumption. Quite the opposite: some of the best scary movies give the viewers just enough details to let their minds fill in the gory gaps. One amazing example is Silence of the Lambs. Some moviegoers will remember the film to be especially gruesome with buckets of red dye #5 and corn syrup. However, upon a second viewing, one might be surprised at how little is actually shown on the screen. Barbarian is another great example. Don’t get the wrong idea: it has its fair share of carnage. But viewers may find that most of the red dye in the theater is conjured up by their imaginations.
Barbarian is a great horror movie filled with edge-of-your-seat action, screaming-at-the-characters moments, and is a wonderful thriller to watch with friends, but also alone… at night... with all of the lights off. Just make sure to keep a vacuum cleaner handy for the bowl of popcorn which will inevitably end up getting thrown in the air.