‘Barbarian’ will keep you guessing


“Barbarian” is a 2022 horror film directed by Zach Cregger. The film had a theatrical release on September 9, and was added to the streaming platform HBO Max on October 25.

“Barbarian” follows a young woman, Tess (played by Georgina Campbell) and the conflict that arises when she arrives at her Airbnb that has already been booked by Keith (Bill Skarsgård). This is just the beginning of “Barbarian”, and the plot takes many turns as the film progresses.

This is the type of media that should be consumed with little to no background knowledge, as the plot progression is truly the best part of the story. That being said, this review will be completely spoiler-free, but will cover specific plot points that could potentially undermine the viewing experience, so be warned.

The plot twists in “Barbarian” are the strongest parts of the story. The film starts as a very typical “girl ends up alone with strange guy” affair, and the viewer can immediately guess what will happen. However, about 30 minutes in, the film diverges from the main characters Tess and Keith, and takes on a drastic tonal shift.

This is when a new character, AJ (Justin Long) is introduced. AJ is in the entertainment business, but is facing backlash due to a sexual assault allegation from a former associate. To escape the heat, AJ travels to one of his Michigan properties, which happens to be the Airbnb Tess and Keith were staying in. Disturbing events ensue.

The film takes two more distinct turns that will not be discussed here for the authenticity of the viewing. “Barbarian” is one of the most unique films of the past decade. It takes an unconventional route that diverges from typical horror storytelling tactics. If you get nothing else from “Barbarian”, you will at least get surprised.

The performances in “Barbarian” are impressive, but lacking in some ways. To begin with the positives, Campbell was likable and realistic as Tess. She was a good, if not unoriginal, horror movie protagonist. Bill Skarsgård was an incredible as usually, but felt somewhat underutilized given his acting prowess, especially in other horror films such as “It”. Justin Long was fantastic as AJ, a character that the audience loves to hate. He provided comedic relief as well as a sense of karmic justice.

“Barbarian” certainly delivered in the horror category. The film provides some classic creepy shots but thankfully shies away from the often over-utilized jump scare. The cinematography provides an eerie, disturbing atmosphere. It also utilizes more graphic and gory shots, but the true horror lies in the overall concept. The film explores both the horrors of the supernatural and unknown, as well as the horrors of humanity and the violence people can subject each other to. This is an interesting concept, as the grotesque horror of the film stems from the all-too-common barbarity of sick and twisted individuals in the real world.

Overall, “Barbarian” is a must-watch for horror fans, especially those who enjoy unexpected twists and turns. This movie earned 4 stars out of 5.