barbarian movie

Devilish and bizarre, “Barbarian” roars with intensity in its tension-filled first half but falters to a whimper once all of its twists have been unraveled.

The blood-soaked film is led by Georgina Campbell, Justin Long and Bill Skarsgård with Matthew Patrick Davis, Richard Brake and Jaymes Butler in supporting roles.

Alone on a dark road in Detroit, Michigan, Tess Marshall (played by Georgina Campbell) has rented out an Airbnb, surprised to find it already occupied by another renter named Keith (played by Bill Skarsgård).

While trying to figure out Keith’s true intentions, Tess uncovers far more sinister secrets hidden within the mysterious house.

“Barbarian” is a strange case in that it has many high qualities but nothing to make it memorable. 

Director Zach Cregger does a fine job in building an atmosphere that pulls you to the edge of your seat, causing the viewer to question every character’s decision, but he cannot generate impressive scares.

Although scares are the main drive of a horror film, that doesn’t stop “Barbarian” from bringing a different sense of dread to the screen.

Cregger understands the idea of thrilling his audience with every turn and with this film he excels.

The lighting and music that accompany each scene invigorate the atmosphere and tone, making sure the audience doesn’t become bored with its generally formulaic setup. 

Whether it be vivid shades of purple or dirty yellows, “Barbarian” understands how to keep its flavor varied with each new secret and fright discovered.

These creative decisions are held together by its unnerving cinematography from Zach Kuperstein. 

Kuperstein plays with many different angles and ideas to keep the look of the film engaging and eerie.

On a technical level, “Barbarian” is an admirable horror film, bolstered by a cast who clearly understand the story they are telling.

Whether it be the awkwardly charming but off-kilter performance by Skarsgård or the blood-pumping emotional turn by Campbell, the film’s cast fit their characters perfectly and give every death in the film a sense of gravitas.

Although “Barbarian” has the makings of a terrifying film, its screenplay and final twist trips over itself.

The first 50 minutes of the film are expertly written, building its anxiety-fueled mystery to a shocking climax.

It’s sadly after this climax that the film plateaus its way to the finish line.

Once the first terrifying discovery of the film is made, it never reaches the high intensities of its earlier scene again.

With half the mystery figured out, Cregger becomes far too reliant on chase scene after chase scene, without including any type of unique atmosphere or scare.

What was once a promising concept turns into a bargain bin flick with a rather large budget.

Nothing ruins the tone of a great horror film more than forced comedy, even if it’s fairly well written.

Although he’s wonderfully portrayed by Justin Long, the character of AJ feels far too comedic for the setting and completely breaks the engagement of the audience when he is introduced.

Along with the mediocre screenplay, the nail in the coffin is its shallow final twist.

The film is inspired by flicks such as “Sinister” and “Don’t Breathe” in regards to the twist; unlike those films, there isn’t any kind of setup or motivation for its unspeakable horror, even if it’s a disturbingly perfect idea.

“Barbarian” had so much going for its marvelously made first half but becomes a rather generic fright that doesn’t let its powerful social commentary shine.

The film was released on Sept. 9 and is currently in theaters.

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