Disclaimer: I am as vague as possible with this review as to not spoil the true nature of what this film has to offer. I highly suggest that if you plan to watch this film, do not read this review until after, and don’t look up or read anything related to this film until after you have seen it. It would spoil the fun!
Tess Marshall (Georgina Campbell) has been driving all night, tired and ready to take a much-needed rest. It’s late, raining, and she really needs to get to the place she is staying. She arrives at an Airbnb that she had booked at least a month prior, humming the numbers “8831”, the code to the lock box where the key should be on the front of the house. She exits her vehicle and types the code into the lock box only to find out the code doesn’t work. As she walks back to her car, she notices a light on in the residence. She comes back and knocks on the door. A mysterious man (Bill Skarsgard) answered. The two of them find out they have been double booked, and being the gentleman he is, he allows Tess to crash for the evening.
As gentlemanly as possible, this mysterious man volunteers to take the couch and passes the only bedroom in the home to Tess. Flash forward to the evening, and Tess wakes up to the door open after she knows she closed it. Peaking out of the crack in the doorway, she hears the man having some kind of night terrors. She rushes over and shuffles the man awake. Of course, he is thrown for a loop and has no idea what’s happened, but she asks him, “Did you open my door”? He says no. The next day Tess manages to get herself stuck in the basement after a long day of doing interviews for a career she is looking forward to. The man returns home to see her locked in the basement through a window. Tess gets out and tells him that she had found a secret opening in the basement that led to ominous corridors. The man is curious. He decides to go and see for himself.
Right off the bat this film is so hard to talk about without spoiling the sinister nature of what is really going on there. Who is this mysterious man? Why was this home double booked, and is this neighborhood really that safe for the two of them? I promise you. If you can do yourself any favors before watching this film, try not to read or view any reviews or previews. Not even this one. Right when you think you may have an idea of what is happening in this home; it is not what you think. Throughout some various time jumps and several character protagonists (including Justin Long), the truth about this house will become clear by the ending credits. The film works its best magic when you have no preconceived information, and the payoff is so much fun.
Barbarian may end up being director Zach Cregger’s thrust into mainstream horror storytelling, and I very much appreciate it. The film is filled with so many twists and turns, and so much mystery that when you finally find out what’s actually happening; the payoff is worth it. Although the story is primarily in a single location, the use of Detroit as a city really adds to the horror element here (i.e., with a police force that seems too busy to handle a minuscule case in a low-income area). The small cast. The small setting. It all works so well for the film, and I can’t stress enough, don’t watch or see anything beforehand (even the trailer does a good job of staying out of its own plot). If you have any love for horror, or even if you love movies like IT, then this should be a must watch.
Reviewed By: Dimitreus Newell