"Barbarian" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
In his directorial debut, Zach Cregger proves that he is a master of horror and suspense throughout the entire runtime of "Barbarian". Not only does he demonstrate how he can keep audiences on the edge of their seat and strike fear into those who watch this movie, but how he can also seamlessly blend together the genres of horror and comedy. At its core, this film has an amazing screenplay, great direction, and fantastic performances by Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, and Justin Long.
The movie opens up on Tess Marshall (Campbell), who is reciting the code for the key box lock before stepping out into the pouring rain outside. She rented an Airbnb for the week, hoping to impress a documentary filmmaker on a job interview. However, when she gets up to the house, she notices the key is not in the lock box and there is a man already in the house. His name is Keith (Skarsgård), and he rented the same house that Tess did on a different site. With no one answering the phone and hotels being booked due to a convention in Detroit that week, they must share the house together.
They both thoroughly enjoy each other's company, and start to develop a friendship over their stay at the house. However, there is something evil and dark lurking around that house; something that both residents are not expecting whatsoever. Because of this, they must now fight to survive and escape the cursed house.
From the beginning of this movie, it is already in full swing and immerses the viewer into what they are watching. This is easily one of those movies that grabs you right at the start, and won't let you go until the end credits roll. This is due to the fantastic writing by Cregger, who is able to craft this story without having to know anything about these characters. Consider the scene in the very beginning where Tess keeps getting phone calls from a guy named Marcus. We have no clue who Marcus is, nor do we meet him in the film. But he is able to craft the story for this movie that we know exactly who Marcus is, and the effect he has on our main character. At the same time as well, Cregger takes all of our preconceptions, and flip them on their head. The viewer thinks one thing is going to happen, only to be totally caught off guard when something else happens entirely. There is no part of this movie that can be expected or guessed the watching.
In addition to the great writing, Cregger directs this movie almost perfectly. Everything seems seamless and perfectly crafted. Throughout the movie, there are many cuts to different time periods and locations. Many films have trouble switching to different time periods or make it seem very out of place and confusing, but Cregger was able to tell this entire story without the viewer feeling confused or lost at any given point of time.
Cregger is able to build the suspense and terror very well. Consider the scene where Tessa goes down to the basement for the first time. The entire sequence is terrifying, and makes the viewer genuinely feel scared about what is going to happen. He also places these scenes in an excruciatingly dark setting, and has the viewer wanting to shield their eyes so they don't have to experience the terror the characters on screen are experiencing.
Campbell, Skarsgård, and Long all give amazing performances throughout this entire movie. The first two are able to set up the terror and the fear the viewers will be experiencing for the next hour and a half, while Long comes in later and provides the comedic relief that this film heavily benefits from. It's great to watch these two genres seamlessly blend together to create a unique experience watching this film. You can genuinely feel the terror in Campbell's performance, and Skarsgård does a fantastic job of giving off that creepy vibe. I honestly think Skarsgård is at his best when performing these more horror characters considering his performance in this and as Pennywise in Andy Muschietti's 2017 film, "It".
This film as a whole is great and a very impressive modern horror movie. It combines every element of a horror movie I would ever want, and is able to perfectly do it seamlessly. It genuinely seems effortless even though Cregger and the cast put so much of themselves into this movie. Without a doubt, this is one of the best horror movies this year, and I am excited to see what Cregger does next.