Director: Zach Cregger
Writer: Zach Cregger
Starring: Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long
Barbarian, which is written and directed by Zach Cregger, has finally arrived in the UK. It’s one of the most talked about horror films of the year, and doesn’t disappoint at all. It takes a simple idea, and adds some of the most messed up things you can imagine, and the result is something completely unnerving and as ‘out-there’ as possible. It’s filled with great performances, excellent effects, and genuine terror. There’s also a great use of the word ‘nope’, rivalling the use in Jordan Peele’s film earlier this year.
The film begins with Tess Marshall (Georgina Campbell) arriving at a house she’s booked on Airbnb, only to find out that it’s already occupied by Keith (Bill Skarsgård). Not knowing what to do, and unable to contact the rental agency, they agree to share the house and claim a refund later. At first there’s a tension between them, as neither one can trust the other, but as they get to know each other they start to become friends, but there are more secrets to uncover.
This is the kind of film that’s best to go into without knowing anything about the plot. Even the trailer doesn’t give much away, which feels like a rarity these days. It’s a full-on horror that’s both incredibly unsettling and downright scary at points. The first half of the film masterfully builds an incredible atmosphere that has you on the edge of your seat, dreading what’s coming next. Just the idea of booking an Airbnb and someone else already being there is scary enough, but there’s so much more going on and it’s downright nightmarish. Thankfully, it doesn’t always push the horror, with plenty of respite between the more tense scenes. Even so, you know the characters aren’t safe.
While the first half is all about building up tension, with one hell of a scary scene as the pay off, the second half shift gears into something a little different. The horror is there, but now that the cats out of the bag it’s much more in your face. Not just with the obvious horror, but with some social commentary on toxic masculinity, a reminder that the world is full of real horrors. More surprisingly, in the tonal shift of the second half is the moments of comedy, which really eases up on the tension before everything gets going again. One of the best things about the film is the score by Anna Drubich, it’s incredibly unnerving and adds to the horror of everything, woven into every scene.
Barbarian is scary, funny, and gross. It has an incredible tense build up in the first half, and while the second half isn’t quite as scary, it’s very unsettling right through to the end. One of the best horror films of the year for sure.
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