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  • Writer's pictureAbby Brenker

Horror Review: Barbarian (2022)


When I saw the trailer for Barbarian, my first thought was “no way.” It didn’t feel like my kind of horror movie. It looked gory and graphic and upsetting. But I actually liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Barbarian (2022) stars Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård and Justin Long. It was written and directed by Zach Cregger.

From the trailer, the audience sees the first act of the film. Two travelers are double booked for the same Airbnb. And we know something sinister lurks below in the basement. But we are led to believe that the other renter, played by Skarsgård, is suspect. But the story unravels much further.

The film asks the question, who is the barbarian? Though it sort of spoon feeds it to us. Which isn’t necessarily bad but perhaps falls a little flat. Justin Long’s character is so unquestionably terrible. He is accused of sexual assault, he uses slurs casually…of course he lets us down in the end.

I also think our lead character, played by Georgina Campbell, makes a lot of bad decisions. Which is par for the course in a horror movie. That being said, I was intrigued by the totally abandoned neighborhood with the exception of the Airbnb house. I wish there was more to that. But why does she stay?! Why does she stay while Skarsgård’s character explores the basement…so many unrealistic choices.

I did think the film did a good job of giving us just enough of the backstory, though it was curious that the filmmakers showed peripheral moments from the past…the serial killer walking through the store, the set-up for a murder happening later. We also don’t see what is on the tapes. The filmmakers tell that dark story without showing us, which I appreciated. Especially because I thought this film was going to be very graphic.

One of my main questions is…why is The Mother suddenly superhuman? If this is the inbred offspring of victims (terrible), how does she evolve into a creature who can rip arms off of people? Looking for theories!

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. Was it my favorite horror film of the year? No. But there were a lot of elements I loved. Including Campbell's performance.

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Patrick Goodsell
Patrick Goodsell

I think of myself as the most cowardly member of the LRH community –I watch horror movies rarely, in daylight, often through my fingers– but I keep coming back to this movie, watching it twice in two days. I think it has a lot to say about the entitlement of men and the female victims they leave in their wake. While she is the "monster" of the movie, I don't think Mother can be thought of as the villain given how much we learn about her origins. Her superhuman qualities are as unrealistic as Tess' decisions, but I think there's a metaphor there about her resilience.

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