Review: Barbarian

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Don’t let the title confuse you, Barbarian (2022) is a film that more than adequately tackles themes of the current day and builds its horror from those same roots.

Barbarian opens to the horror of mundanity and normalcy. The protagonist Tess finds herself sharing an AirBnB with a stranger, Keith, after the house is double booked on separate websites. The film attempts to make its audience fear simple, everyday things like a quaint suburban house, a cup of tea or a washing machine. With a refreshingly unique score that always keeps you on edge, it succeeds in these attempts before the renters delve deeper into the house, resulting in more classic fears of gore, and nightmarishly simple body horror imagery. 

The central theme of Barbarian is accountability, something the writer and director Zach Cregger seems to criticize America for having a lack of. Echoes of the MeToo movement are prominent throughout the film, both in the characterization of the antagonist and weighing heavily on the dialogue of the protagonists. Through this theme the film revels in what feels real and it is in these moments the film is at its best. However, in my opinion to its detriment, it strays away from this realism in the later acts of the film for a more conventional horror villain. 

Still the film remains an enjoyable experience from start to finish. The camera work is always engaging while also being a little playful at times changing aspect ratio and adding some POV shots. The pacing is surprisingly fast in a genre that can get bogged down in the set up for anti-climactic reveals. This horror doesn’t rely heavily on jumpscares and the acting is fantastic across the board jumping between being serious and comedic with very little whiplash in the transition. 

Barbarian is an artistic, well made horror film that succeeds in keeping its audience on edge and constantly afraid of what might happen next. It is well worth the time spent watching. 

More info & links:

  • Director: Zach Cregger
  • Cast: Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long
  • Official Website
  • IMDB

Nick McKay

Film Reviewer

Nick McKay is a Carleton University English major with a minor in film, and a passion for talking about it. A fan of all forms of art, Nick found that film had a special magic to it, and looks to share that magic to whoever will listen. While mainly a horror fan, their favorite films range from the action packed Streets of Fire to the sad serenity of A Silent Voice, and anything in between.