Horror/Thriller | 20th Century Studios | 102m | Rated: R
Written and Directed By: Zach Cregger
Starring: Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long, Richard Brake, Matthew Patrick Davis, Jaymes Butler
Synopsis: Two strangers discover they have been double booked at the same Airbnb, but the house is far from what appears when a hidden tunnel system is discovered underneath it.
Delivering a plot point people can relate to when kicking off a horror movie is a step in the right direction. Zach Cregger does just that when two characters find themselves double booked at the same Airbnb. It’s an awkward situation to say the least, but you add the dread of a rundown neighborhood, horrible weather, and the darkness of night, and you have an effective recipe for uneasiness and unnerving curiosity.
I was quickly roped into this movie despite some of its issues. I mean expecting a woman to stay with a male stranger, lack of options or not, was a bit hard to relate to. Tess (Georgina Campbell) does show strong reservations, and Keith (Bill Skarsgård) does carry a moderate amount of disarming charm.
Once the suspension of disbelief is in place, and going with the notion there is another, more ominous threat looming over these characters is when the fun of Barbarian truly kicks in. The discovery of a basement leading to a catacomb of underground tunnels ramps up effective tension. While watching you can feel the intrigue of what’s really lurking in the darkness. And when the horror kicks in the use of shadows, the visual effects, and the anticipation create a string of delightfully frightening and disturbing sequences.
The cast is more than effective. This storyline in the hands of others may not have landed with the intended impact. Campbell, Skarsgård, and a casually sleazy Justin Long infuse a ton of energy into these characters to connect with. Barbarian doesn’t really break out of the mold, and really doesn’t do anything extremely fresh. But the ambition overall and the sturdy story layering do more than enough to weave a haunting tale filled with just enough misdirection, moments of cringe and appealing unpredictability.
Now Barbarian does try to do a bit too much in spots. The finale is a rewarding one despite its modest amounts of silliness and where the movie does have its flaws, the positives more than outweigh them. I had a blast with this movie, and it had me on edge plenty of times making it easily recommendable for the Halloween season.
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2022 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.