Barbarian is the kind of movie that is best experienced without any of its marketing. However, if you do feel the need to watch a trailer beforehand, I’d recommend checking out the first one, which shows a lot of restraint, only using footage from the first 45 minutes of the movie.
It establishes a simple premise, in which Tess (Georgina Campbell) books an Airbnb in Detroit that has been double booked, and the movie takes off from there. Barbarian is truly unpredictable, and writer/director Zach Cregger keeps audiences off-balance by resetting the narrative just as the action reaches its peak.
This movie effectively builds tension and suspense, but it also expects its audience to roll with certain leaps in logic, like when Tess heads out to the job interview. She sees the neighborhood for the first time in broad daylight, and every property with the exception of the Airbnb should be condemned. Tess is a smart and resourceful character and the idea that she wouldn’t turn around, pack up her things, and relocate is a stretch.
Barbarian is a slow-paced horror/thriller, and at its core, the narrative is more akin to a haunted house story. Except the horrors of the house are a direct result of the things that happened at 476 Barbary Street.
This movie is all about misdirection, and the hard cuts to new locations and characters immediately following a climatic sequence might be enough to give some viewers narrative whiplash. It’s also worth mentioning that the movie’s methodical pace may cause some people to lose interest rather than finish the journey. Surprisingly for a movie that takes its time, there are moments that feel glossed over simply for the sake of moving the story along which was frustrating to say the least.
Barbarian is available on streaming now, and will be released on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD in December 2022.
The Big Comic Page was provided a copy of Barbarian for this review.
Additional comments: Bonus features included were a 12-minute behind the scenes look at Barbarian and four deleted scenes. The most interesting deleted scene is titled “Tess Calls Marcus.” The sequence doesn’t do much for the plot, but it reframes Tess as a more nuanced character and presents her as having an affair with her former boss.
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511