Horror Movie Review: Barbarian (2022)

Barbarian is a horror film written and directed by Zach Cregger, releasing in 2022. Tess Marshall arrives at her reserved rental house only to discover that it has been accidentally double-booked with a man. Worse still, she has no clue of the dark secret within the dwelling.

The man wrapped up in the double-booking situation and currently occupying the house is Keith Toshho (Bill Skarsgard). Initially unnerved by Keith, Tess warms up to him and decides to stay the night while Keith sleeps on the sofa, but finds her door has been unlocked in the night.

The next morning Tess goes for her interview and is warned not to stay in the area near the house. Returning to the house she is chased inside by a homeless man who yells at her to leave. She becomes locked in the basement and stumbles across a hidden corridor, leading to a room with a camcorder, a stained mattress, and a bloody handprint.

Keith returns to the house, frees Tess from the basement, and investigates the hidden corridor. When he does not return, Tess follows him and finds a subterranean tunnel attached to the hidden corridor, where she finds Keith injured. Then, the pair are attacked by a naked, deformed woman……

I can’t really put much more without going into major spoilers so you’ll have to check out the film to see what comes next.

Barbarian is very good and yet very flawed, I’m a bit conflicted. Firstly, the initial setup with the double booking situation and Keith doesn’t exactly go the way you think it might. It’s clever because the situation raises a lot of tension but it’s a refreshing twist all the same. There’s a particularly brutal moment involving Keith that comes out of nowhere. I won’t spoil it but it’s quite nasty looking and certainly took me by surprise.

Let’s talk about Tess as a character. Firstly, it goes without saying that you learn next to nothing about her which is disappointing.

I really enjoyed the intrigue and tension involved with her discovering the secret passage in the basement. There’s some very effective camera work in these moments. I can’t say much for her intelligence though. Just when you think the film is portraying her as a smart character, she makes a dumb choice, then another and so on. There’s a moment where she jokingly blurts “nope” in response to discovering the creepy passage. She goes and sits down on the basement steps, waiting for Keith to return. Only for her to get up and go into said passage to explore moments later. If she didn’t make half of the dumb decisions that she does, this could be a very short film. Not that Keith is much better in that regard to be fair.Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

The acting throughout is pretty strong. However, there’s a scene where Tess is trying to convince some police officers about what she’s been through. It’s smart because she’s so roughed up at this point she looks like just another local tweaker. The reasoning for not believing her is sound from their perspective. However, I found it unbelievable that Tess was not far more hysterical in an attempt to be more convincing. She wasn’t upset enough for my liking.

The insane titty creature that they encounter looks pretty great in terms of the effects. If you’ve ever played Resident Evil and know the story of Lisa Trevor then this might feel somewhat familiar to you. She may be hideous but there’s a tragic story there that adds some weight to proceedings. There’s this whole sub-plot involving a serial killer that is grossly underdeveloped. Sure, you can assume a lot of things but I always prefer a more show, don’t tell approach. There’s just so much that doesn’t quite add up about it and you don’t get many answers either. Then, there’s a homeless guy that lives in the abandoned neighbourhood who knows so much information and it got me wondering how the hell does he know all that? This guy does die in pretty hilarious fashion with the line of the movie so not a completely useless character.

Finally, I’ll briefly touch on Justin Long’s character which adds a complete unnecessary additional sub-plot to the film. Genuinely, you could have easily had this not exist and it wouldn’t have changed much. Long story short, it’s more Harvey Weinstein rubbish that I’m sure everyone is tired of by now. I’m not trying to downplay the terrible nature of those real life events but it’s time to move on.

Overall, Barbarian isn’t perfect by any means but I had a lot of fun with it all the same. It reminded me of Drag me to Hell at times, it has that sort of vibe. For what it was, I enjoyed it and I’d certainly recommend giving it a watch. One question, what is it about inbreeding in horror and it creating superhuman monsters?


  • Liam Fisher

    Owner/Editor/Writer/YouTuber - Typical 90s-00s kid; raised on Pokémon, Final Fantasy & the Attitude Era. In fact, that makes up about 99% of my personality. The remaining 1% is dedicated to my inner rage for people who still don’t understand the ending of Lost or those that enjoyed the Game of Thrones final season. Find me on GBHBL where I’ll most likely be reviewing horror movies or games. Also, see me on our YouTube channel!

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