Appearances are not what they seem in the new horror movie Barbarian. It’s rare for a horror movie to come along that is so surprising, even discussing the finer plot points would spoil the effect. With a unique and completely bonkers story, Zach Cregger’s latest will delight genre fans as it offers up something completely unexpected.
After travelling to Detroit for a job interview, Tess (Georgina Campbell) arrives at her AirBnB long after the sun has set. Dark, rainy and in a not-so-great neighbourhood, Tess is eager to get checked in and settled. But all does not go to plan when she discovers the rental home is already occupied by another guest. The affable Keith (Bill Skarsgård) is just as baffled as she is, offering the young woman the chance to come inside so they can sort this complicated mess out. Against her better judgement, Tess agrees to spend the evening, soon discovering there are far more things to be afraid of in the house than the mysterious Keith.
To say any more about the plot of Barbarian would be a disservice to viewers, which makes reviewing it a bit of a tough task. That said, there are things that writer/director Cregger includes that will no doubt get audiences talking on their way out of the theatre. Likely more well-known for his comedic offerings, like The Whitest Kids U Know, the filmmaker goes way dark with his first foray into horror and manages to contribute some truly fresh elements — a feat which earns him a well-deserved pat on the back.
Superbly cast, Campbell is absolutely radiant on-screen as Tess, who — thankfully — isn’t an idiot. The character doesn’t walk into her situation blindly, nor is she a one-dimensional plot device to which common sense and reality do not apply. Tess does her due diligence, as any solo woman in 2022 would, before she sets off on her ultimate course of action.
Skarsgård is equally charming as Keith, a man put out by a total stranger after already settling in. Their situation unfolds quite naturally and, if this wasn’t a horror movie, it would make for an adorable romantic-comedy meet-cute (see Netflix’s Love in the Villa). Luckily for us, Cregger is determined to play with our expectations and to deliver audiences a truly twisted tale.
Viewers only get a few quick looks at Justin Long in the film’s trailer but rest assured, he soon factors into the story in surprising ways. The actor is fantastic as A.J., a man in deep personal crisis. And when Long’s own affable personality shines through, it gives new dimensions to his performance and to the role.
The film is a well-kept horror secret at the moment, so it’s in viewers’ best interests to get to a theatre soon before the inevitable spoilers descend.
Arriving in theatres on September 9, Barbarian is the perfect kick-off to scary movie season.