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Barbarian (18)

Cast: Matthew Patrick Davis, Justin Long, Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgard
Genre: Horror
Author(s): Zach Cregger
Director: Zach Cregger
Release Date: 28/10/2022
Running Time: 103mins
Country: US
Year: 2022

Tess Marshall travels to Detroit for an important job interview and books accommodation for the night through an app in one of the city's rundown neighbourhoods. Arriving at a house during a raging storm, Tess is shocked to discover the property has been double-booked and a man called Keith is already inside. With nowhere else to stay and inclement conditions outside, Tess ignores her intuition and agrees to spend the evening in the house with Keith ahead of her interview in the morning.


LondonNet Film Review

Barbarian (18) Film Review from LondonNet

The perils of a short-term home rental are des res for stomach-churning terror in a derivative young-woman-in-peril horror that evicts plausibility before the first droplets of blood are spilt. Written and directed by Zach Cregger with plentiful on-screen splatter and a disturbing breast-feeding sequence that left me considering a dairy-free diet, Barbarian suckles on the dread of an overnight stay in unfamiliar surroundings. Cregger has a firm grasp on teasing the omens of impending doom…

The opening 30 minutes, essentially a two-hander between actors Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgard, are deliciously tense and our discomfort is stoked by repeated intrusions from composer Anna Drubich’s discordant score. Once the film’s ill-fated heroine opens the door to a basement and descends into the gloom, any nervous nail-biting is swiftly replaced by head-shaking and snorts of derision as the lead character blithely abandons common sense and deliberately puts herself in harm’s way to service the plot.

This cavalier attitude towards personal safety diminishes sympathy for the lead character to the point that we’re almost relieved when something unspeakable comes hurtling out of the darkness and punishes her reckless abandon. A protracted second act set two weeks later, which introduces an obnoxious actor (Justin Long) facing allegations of sexual aggression towards a female co-star, continues to defy logic, teeing up another subterranean journey by flickering torchlight and a big reveal via stylised flashback to the 1980s.

Tess Marshall (Campbell) travels to Detroit for an important job interview and books accommodation for the night through an app. Arriving at a house in one of the city’s rundown neighbourhoods during a raging rainstorm, Tess is shocked to discover the property has been double-booked by a man called Keith (Skarsgard). “Why don’t you come inside?” he gestures. Tess ignores her intuition and accepts his kind offer so she can telephone nearby hotels and find alternative accommodation ahead of an important job interview in the morning for a research position with a celebrated documentary filmmaker.

Unfortunately, there is a big convention in town and everywhere is sold out. Rather than spend the night in her rental car, Tess agrees to take the bedroom while Keith sleeps on the sofa. Strange noises emanating from below ground confirm that Keith is the least of Tess’s worries if she wants to survive a night in Michigan.

Punctuated by explosions of graphic violence that fully warrant the 18 certificate, Barbarian springs too many plot holes, allowing tension to gradually evaporate. Impressive prosthetics transform actor Matthew Patrick Davis into a terrifying and oddly touching antagonist, who deserves a better resolution than Cregger contrives here.

– Jo Planter


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