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Barbarian (2022) - Movie Review

Barbarian film review

As much as I love horror films, these days there seem to be fewer and fewer new ones that leave the slightest impression on me.

Everything’s just so predictable and annoyingly un-scary. I want a horror that messes me up so badly that I have to run up the stairs at night after I turn off the light because I think something’s gonna come out of the dark and get me! It seems that horror (for the most part) has become more about jump scares than it has psychological trauma.

Saying that, last year I watched a movie that didn’t quite scare the bejesus out of me, but was so refreshingly original that I thought I’d do a post about it for Halloween since I didn’t do one at the time.

Barbarian (2022)

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a horror/mystery/thriller starring Georgina Campbell (Krypton), Bill Skarsgård (IT), and Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers) and quite frankly, not many others.

This is what it’s about according to the internet:

“A young woman discovers the rental home she booked is already occupied by a stranger. Against her better judgment, she decides to spend the night but soon discovers there's a lot more to fear than just an unexpected house guest.”

I knew I was gonna like this film from the beginning. There’s just something about the way it’s filmed that I found visually pleasing right from the opening scene. It also doesn’t waste any time getting into things which is always nice.

The movie has a very minimal cast which is something I often find works really well, especially when the performances are good like they are in this film. There are essentially six notable characters with only three of those getting a decent chunk of screen time.

Georgina Campbell (who I hadn’t seen in anything before this) is excellent as the female lead, Tess, and Bill Skarsgård (who I’m very fast becoming a big fan of) is really good as the “nice guy” who happens to have double-booked the airbnb Campbell’s character is meant to be staying at.

One of the things I liked the most about the film is how for a fair way into the movie it’s unclear whether Skarsgård’s character, Ken is as nice as he makes out. I like films that keep you guessing, and this one certainly does that up to a point.

In a kind of “From Dusk till Dawn” twist the story suddenly shifts from what it is for the first 40 minutes of the film to what it becomes for the rest of the movie. Knowing very little about the film going in, this big change just added to my enjoyment of it.

It’s at this point that Justin Long’s character is introduced, and to be quite honest he steals the show. He’s such an underrated actor, and personally I loved seeing him return to his horror roots after first seeing him in Jeepers Creepers (2001).

Something else I think makes this film so effective is the use of music. The filmmakers really know when less is more. Some of the most tense scenes are when there’s no music at all, but when it is used, the often “John Carpenter-esque” score and unnerving tones really helps to crank up the tension.

I’m not gonna say too much more about the plot because I think this is one of those films that’s best enjoyed with minimal prior knowledge. However, what I will say is that it’s one of the best and most entertaining new horror films I’ve seen in years. Yes it has a lot of the typical horror movie tropes we’re so used to seeing, but it goes about them in a slightly different way, and I think that’s one of the things that sets it apart.

If you’re tired of formulaic horror films and are looking for something slightly different this Halloween I highly recommend checking this out. It’s a refreshingly enjoyable horror that makes something totally original out of something that’s been done time and time before.

If you like films like Don’t Breathe (2016) and The Hills Have Eyes (1977/2006) you’re almost guaranteed to like this movie. It’s fun, a little bit sinister, slightly outrageous, but highly entertaining. It also doesn’t take itself too seriously, but thankfully takes itself just seriously enough to be immensely enjoyable.

You can find it streaming on Disney+.

Seen it? Let me know below in the comments.

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