Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Zach Cregger.
Starring Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgard, Justin Long, Kurt Braunohler.
Horror, US, 102 minutes.


Reviewed as part of Arrow FrightFest ‘22


Stop. Seriously. Stop reading this review. If you don’t know anything about BARBARIAN, haven’t seen the trailer or know of its premise then go off and do something else until this wickedly smart and highly entertaining film is released. Go see it in the cinema as soon as you can. The busier the screening the better. If you don’t want to know how entertaining, scary, gory and disturbing Zach Cregger’s multi-genre shocker is then please come back later. Look up there at the five-star rating. That’s all you need to know right now. Go see BARBARIAN.


Still here? Okay, I tried to warn you. If you want to read further then rest assured there will be no spoilers. This is a tricky review to write as I’ll be dancing around and avoiding so much of what makes this one of the must-see horror films of the year. You may know of the initial set-up, where Georgina Campbell’s Tess tries to get into her hired Airbnb rental house on a dark rainy night only to find it is already occupied by the seemingly innocuous Keith, played by Bill Skarsgard, an actor whose presence in a film already sets off alarm bells with genre fans. Claiming to have rented the house himself online Keith eventually convinces the suspicious Tess to stay the night. I really don’t want to say anymore but if I must I will let you know that a basement is involved and Tess discovers… something.


Even for those of you who have seen the trailer and have your suspicions of what is involved, rest assured you are probably wrong. What unfolds after Tess goes into the basement is a cleverly structured film that plays out on a number of levels. Cregger’s script and direction feel like the work of someone who has been doing this kind of thing for years. Already known for his work with the comedy troupe The Whitest Kids You Know, his first steps into the horror genre here immediately mark him out as someone who you can not wait to see what he does as a follow-up to this. He deftly mixes his shocks and scares with a wicked sense of humour that recalls John Landis’s handle of tone with AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. Besides that, there is also a relevant subtext involving sexism, committed both knowingly and unknowingly, and misogyny.


The film’s title could be an allusion to those aspects that could have audiences debating who or what it actually is alluding to. For all of its thematic accomplishments, BARBARIAN also succeeds on a visceral level. For a hardened audience who had been sitting through all manner of scares and mayhem the way the first of the films secrets is revealed had the FrightFest premiere audience shocked and gasping audibly. I want so badly to talk to you about the bit where something happens to the person, which is then followed by this other bit where something else happens and is even wilder than the other bit before those bits. But I won’t.


All I will say is go see BARBARIAN the first opportunity you get. At the time of writing it is just about to be released in the US where the online chatter will no doubt give some of the game away. Do not look at any of it. If you can, try and erase this review from your memory. The fact that there still is no release date for the UK is cause for concern as willing audiences here may be spoiled by the time it gets to be shown over here. Go in as blind as you can, when you can. It is worth the wait. Then we can talk about the bit when ….


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans