My favorite horror movies are those that surprise me, and Barbarian has surprised just about everyone who’s watched it so far. The problem with talking about writer/director Zach Cregger’s horror juggernaut is not wanting to spoil it for the next unknowing victim. I went into it 100% blind, which I’ve heard is the best way; however, it’s nearly impossible to tell you why you should put this at the top of your Halloween list if I can’t talk about it. So, if you’re like me and want to see this flick without any forward knowledge, click away now, watch it, then come back and reminisce with me about one of the best movies of the year.
Barbarian stars Georgina Campbell as documentary researcher Tess. She’s interviewing in Detroit for a new job and books an online rental home for the night. Arriving late in the evening in the rain, she discovers the home is double-booked when she meets quirky, yet charming, Keith (played by the amazing Bill Skarsgård). Rightfully on edge, she takes some safety precautions when deciding to stay in the home.
The movie tugs on all the right emotions and fears, and does so incredibly effectively. When renting a place to stay, there’s always concern about location, and Barbarian proves why. Worried about someone still being there when you arrive? Barbarian hits that, too. A single woman, walking into a potentially dangerous situation with none other than Pennywise the Dancing Clown (although Tess doesn’t know that). It’s enough to make audiences go crazy with not only terror, but paranoid theories. Is Keith a good guy like he seems? Is he a creeper who says all the right things? Who knows! And that basement? Let’s just say there’s a reason why people in horror movies should never go upstairs or downstairs. Just stay on the main level, people!
What’s amazing about the film is it doesn’t stop there. It’s quite surprising in all the perfect ways with plenty of “What the hell is going on?!” moments and those times where I placed my fingers over my face, you know, with them slightly parted cause I really needed to see what I didn’t want to see. I love it when a horror movie makes me do that. It elicits that child-like feeling of terror. There are lots of comedic scenes, as well – yes, I said comedic. Let’s just say, like so many others who have seen the movie, I’ll never use a tape measure quite the same again. In the end, though, the horror breaks through on so many levels, and it taps into things that could actually happen to a gal just wandering through life, believing she’s doing all the right things.
Barbarian is one of those films that sticks to your quaking guts and rattles around your brain for a long time after watching. I saw it with my best friend, who was visiting, and we were talking about it for the rest of her trip. Beyond being thought- and discussion-provoking, those well-executed jump scares did a number on me. It also didn’t help that, the next day, we had an Airbnb rented in a town we’d never been to. Thank goodness it was on one level, although neither of us would have minded if Bill Skarsgård had double-booked it. This is a film that will continue to be talked about by horror connoisseurs for decades. It will become a valued treasure in my horror collection. And, on October 25 when HBOMax releases it, the film will air on my television screen so I can terrify myself once more at home. Yet, if you’re able before then, make sure you check it out in the theatres. There’s just something about a double-booked rental on the big screen that is a must see.