Time: 102 Minutes
Age Rating: Graphic violence, horror, sexual violence references & offensive language
Georgina Campbell as Tess Marshall
Bill Skarsgård as Keith Toshko
Justin Long as AJ Gilbride
Director: Zach Cregger
A young woman discovers the rental home she booked is already occupied by a stranger. Against her better judgment, she decides to spend the night but soon discovers there’s a lot more to fear than just an unexpected house guest.
I heard about Barbarian for a while; I just knew that it was a horror movie starring Bill Skarsgard and that plenty of people were saying it was best not knowing too much about it going in. I think it was worth all the hype overall.
Much of your experience with the movie will hinge on how little you know before going into it. I think it is worth watching blind because it goes in directions that you’re not initially expecting. Part of the premise is that Georgina Campbell arrives at the Airbnb she rented and finds that its already occupied by Bill Skarsgard, she then reluctantly spends the night there. That’s as much as you’ll want to know beforehand. Overall. I think the writing is strong. I was unsettled over the course of the movie, there is a strong atmosphere, suspense, and a real feeling of dread. There’s also some surprising humour which fits into the movie well. The humour isn’t so overt that you would call it a comedy, but it is subtle enough that it doesn’t take away from the tension. There is some social commentary here which you can look deeper into. In some ways the message kind of gets muddled and there are some missed opportunities to dive deeper. However, it at least allows room for interpretation instead of spelling out everything for the audience. I do have some issues. The movie is a bit short at an hour 40 minutes and I wish it was a little longer to flesh things out. There are some solid twists which take you off guard, but after the first half, the twists in the second half just weren’t as impactful. The unexpected jumps in the narrative can also cause some issues with the pacing, even though they were helped make things unpredictable. Without spoiling anything there is a bit too much time and scenes dedicated to Justin Long’s character and establishing him in the story. I think they could’ve conveyed all that information in less time, and that probably would’ve helped the film to not feel like it came to a screeching halt when he’s introduced.
The performances from the cast are really good. Georgina Campbell plays the main character and really sells her role really well, conveying her character’s dread. Bill Skarsgard is also good in this, playing the person already in Airbnb. His casting is particularly used to great effect here, especially considering his menacing and villainous roles in other projects. As a result, during his scenes, you are trying to figure out who he is and what his intentions are. Another bit of great casting is Justin Long, who was a real stand out. Right from his first scene he is shown to be selfish and unlikable but Long plays it very well, and is the source of much of the comedy.
Zach Cregger’s direction was great, this is his solo writing and directing debut. This one location and setting is conveyed really well, and the parts in the basement look very creepy and unnerving. The camerawork and cinematography are outstanding, from the movements (goes handheld when necessary) to the choice of lens (fisheye at some points). Finally, the score by Anna Drubich is eerie and adds to the atmosphere and tone.
Barbarian is a great, suspenseful, entertaining, and well crafted horror movie, phenomenally directed, with surprising humour, and great performances from Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgard and Justin Long. Its one of the best horror movies of the year and well worth checking out (but is best going into it blind).