Barbarian; Grade: B+
Barbarian tells a story of a woman named Tess (Georgina Campbell) whom is gearing up for an important interview with a documentary filmmaker in Detroit, Michigan, as she booked herself an Airbnb to stay in for a couple days. As Tess arrived at her Airbnb on a rainy night: Apparently the house key has gone missing. The house light came randomly on as it turns out that a stranger by the name of Keith (Bill Skarsgard), has booked the house on the same night as Tess through another rent housing app. Considering it was late, it was raining, and Keith appears to be a nice fellow Tess decides to stay at the Airbnb anyways, as Keith will sleep on the couch. Will this Airbnb spark an unexpected romance venture or will this Airbnb spark terror on the horizon?!
From the looks of the poster: I expected Barbarian to be nothing more than a generic traditional horror film and nothing more. My expectations of the film drastically changed, when a good friend of mine by the name of Aaron Lockhart texted me telling me I should immediately see this film as soon as I possibly can. Why was Aaron’s recommendation significant?! Not only does he share great film knowledge, but he never recommends anything to me so this film had to be something special. It turns out… Barbarian is perhaps one of the best horror comedy films I’ve seen in years, it’s been awhile since a film of this caliber has wowed me as the end credits rolled, I had a big ass smile on my face saying “That was Awesome!”
If you were expecting a generic and standard style of storytelling within this horror film… OH BOY, it’s FAR from that. The story takes on quite a few unexpected turns that you couldn’t have guessed correctly even if you tried, as the way this story goes is just absurdly insane but in the best possible way. It’s hard for me to dive directly in without spoiling much, but that’s the beauty of this film: It’s best you don’t go in knowing really nothing at all and experience it all for yourself.
I will reveal within the horror aspect, I feel it’s effective in a couple ways. It is effective in terms of disturbing material, as there are a couple significant areas including the couple entities that’ll truly make your stomach turn for the worst, while repeatedly saying out loud “What the Fuck?!” The other area in which I believe is more significantly effective in terms of horror, is actually the themes and messaging within the story.
The moral effective point of the story in terms of theme is the complications of trusting men. You can never tell when a man is a completely harmless individual or a downright monster, as men can easily manipulate women into being something they're clearly not, which makes a valid reason why so many women oftentimes become extremely hesitant in taking chances on men. There’s also a brief yet significant message in terms of stereotyping, as how those who come across a certain person in terms of outside appearance, normally don’t get help just because how they appear on the outside.
Surprisingly enough: There is comedy within this horror film, as I kid you not this is probably the funniest film I’ve sat through this entire year, in a completely genuine way. I feel the film is completely self aware in terms of the bizarre nature of it’s concept, so they just went all out and it blended in perfectly with the entire tone of this film. Justin Long really excelled the comedy material for me, as his performance was honestly the main highlight of this film in terms of performances as he delivered BIG TIME for me. He just displayed the downright comedic nature of this character perfectly, I won’t spoil what his character is really like, but Long was such a treat for me indeed as I was crying laughing multiple times.
There are however a couple flaws to point out with Barbarian. I did not care for the jump scares this film had to offer, especially when one was fairly predictably showcasing an important sequence in the finale. I didn’t care for the closing shot of this film, even though it’s a little bit of a crowd pleasing like moment, I would’ve rather ended it much differently in my opinion. As far as the whole main entity goes: Still feels a bit unclear just how it came about the way it appears to be.
Back to back years in early September, in which we experienced unique experiences with horror: Last year being Malignant and now this year with Barbarian, which Barbarian is the far more superior film than Malignant. I hope this trend continues going forward in cinema, this is what the people NEED to see more of in not just horror, but in films in general.
Overall, Barbarian was a great film that truly is the biggest surprise of the year thus far. I highly recommend checking this one out, see it with a date or especially go out with friends… I’ve texted like four friends to go watch it right after seeing it, it’s definitely a film worth experiencing with a crowd or with people you know you can have fun with. -Mitch Smietana