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Barbarian (2022) – Review – The Best Horror Film of 2022 (So Far)

October 6, 2022

Quick Thoughts – Grade – A – Barbarian is an absolute delight and It’s been fun watching it become a word-of-mouth hit. 

It’s taken me a long time to write a review for Barbarian because I had no clue what to say because I didn’t want to potentially spoil anything. It’s an odd feeling knowing that you really want to tell the world about a movie, but you don’t want to risk ruining anything for people who want to see the film.  I remember knowing next to nothing about it and leaving the screening feeling elated because Barbarian is a rare film that offers surprises, scares, laughs, and is truly unpredictable. It messes with established horror rules and has a devious sense of humor that will either infuriate or be welcomed with elation. I truly believe that audiences should avoid all trailers and reviews, and go into it with as little knowledge as possible. Director Zach Cregger (The Whitest Kids You Know, Miss March) should be applauded for making an audacious horror film that leaves audiences guessing and may probably hurt the AirBnB rental market (The Rental didn’t help either)

Just saying “there’s a twist,” or “this movie breaks all the rules,” or “there’s a brilliant tape measure bit” sets expectations, and I believe that warning viewers about a twist gets viewers ready for a twist, and that could wreck their experience because it isn’t a surprise anymore. What I can say is that Georgina Campbell, Justin Long, and Bill Skarsgård are excellent and they clearly understood the cheeky/violent/vicious/funny tone that Cregger was going for. Also, since it’s discussed in the synopsis, it seems fine to say that the opening of the film revolves around two characters realizing that they both booked an Airbnb location for the same days. What follows is a paranoid thriller that becomes so much more than that. You will laugh, jump, yell at the screen (or internally yell at the screen) and leave the theater feeling recharged because you know that movies like Barbarian can get theatrical releases. 

The cinematography by Zack Kuperstein (The Vigil, The Eyes of My Mother) is playful without being overbearing, and it’s cool how he finds ways to create tension by strategically framing door frames, or knowing that empty corridors are inherently scary. In a recent interview, Kuperstein said the movie’s look was “Fincher upstairs, Raimi downstairs,” and this makes a lot of sense knowing what happens (Also, Justin Long was in Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell, which is one of my favorite horror films). The two competing looks never disrupt the flow of the movie, instead they help create a coherently discordant vibe that has to be seen to be believed. It’s also cool knowing that production designer Rossitsa Bakeva built an American city on a Bulgarian film studio backlot and did a great job of making the set feel like the Detroit shown in It Follows or Don’t Breathe. I’d love to talk about more production facts but I really just want you to watch the movie, then shoot me a message so we can chat about it. The less said the better! Just know that I love Barbarian and I hope you do too. 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2022 9:05 am

    I was going to skip over this one, the premise seemed too limited and I can only watch so many one-room or one-house movies. But it seems you saved me from missing a good one! Thank you! I’ll try to get to the theater to see this one.

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