Barbarian- A Horror Film Without Barbarians

Contrary to what the title may portray, the only barbaric thing about Barbarian was how painfully boring it was to watch. This horror mystery movie was anything but scary.

Barbarian follows a woman named Tess, played by Georgina Campbell, who comes to the city of Detroit for a job interview. When Tess arrives in Detroit, she goes directly to the Airbnb she booked for the night. Upon arrival, the Airbnb has been double booked, and a man named Keith, played by Bill Skarsgard, has already made himself comfortable.

Tess attempts to find another place to stay because she does not want to stay in an Airbnb with a man she does not know in a place like Detroit. However, there are no vacant hotels in the area, forcing her to stay with Keith.

As the night goes on, Tess and Keith become acquaintances, and they both turn in for the night. Tess wakes up in the middle of the night, and for some reason, the door to her room is open, even though she remembers closing it.

Keith is fast asleep on the couch, so who was the one who opened the door? The next day Tess has her interview, which is very successful, and when she comes back, she and Keith discover that the property has an unusual basement, something straight out of a nightmare. As they lurk around the basement, they quickly find out they are not alone. Something else dwells within this place.

After this point, this is where the movie for me begins to immediately fall off. There is this whole other distracting side plot with the owner of the Airbnb, AJ, played by Justin Long.

Because of his ongoing legal woes, AJ plans to sell the Airbnb Tess and Keith are presently renting out. He tries to find the squatters who have been living at his Airbnb for free to no avail, up until he checks the basement.

AJ finds Tess and the “thing” that has been secretly living in his home. Eventually, AJ and Tess escape, but not without significant troubles induced by the unknown basement creature.

The three most significant problems with this movie are its plot, pacing, and title. For a majority of the movie, I needed help keeping track of what was happening in the film. Some flashbacks were not spontaneous or could have been presented at a better time.

Additionally, I don’t believe that the title of this movie fits the main storyline at all. When I think of a barbarian, I envision an axe-wielding Viking ready to tear down his enemies no matter the cost. Conversely, the creature hiding in AJ’s basement held no resemblance to a barbarian.

While there are numerous issues with this movie, I believe that the best parts about Barbarian are the camera angles. There are some fantastic shots and scenes in Barbarian that I appreciated, fitting the scene perfectly and what it attempted to do. Another interesting aspect of the movie was its design of the creature. It was surprising, to say the least, when you first saw the creature; it scared the audience for just a moment before everyone got a hold of themselves and realized its ridiculousness.

Speaking of laughter, the comic relief in this story is very average. While comedic relief is an important part of any horror film, the director of Barbarian, Zach Cregger, did a poor job of employing such jokes at the right time.

All in all, Barbarian is an average attempt at fun horror. Nevertheless, it has made me think twice about running down into my basement, so I guess it proved its purpose.