Barbarian

Where I Watched It: HBo MAX

English Audio Description Provided By: Deluxe

Narrated By: William Michael Redmond

I think for a lot of people whether or not they choose to watch Barbarian is a personal choice. I think some people might have heard about, or gotten some spoilers thrown their way that have led them to have an idea of whether or not this is the film for them. And, I think that’s totally valid. As creative as Zach Cregger’s horror title is, it also gets that recognition for a very particular reason.

It’s the film I casually refer to as the film AirB&B doesn’t want you to see. Our main protagonist, played by Georgina Campbell, finds herself in Detroit for a job interview. She’s booked a rental house for her stay, but when she gets there, it’s already visibly occupied. The occupant, played in expert casting by bill Skarsgard, claims to have also rented the house, and this is some glitch in the matrix. The neighborhood around her is almost to an extreme form of dilapidation, so she chooses to go inside and figure this out.

The first act of the film tries really hard to make you uneasy, thinking that this is the movie. Is he the barbarian? Is he what you came here for? I mean, he did just play Pennywise in the It reboot, so he must be a killer here, right? Well, I don’t care about spoiling this, but he’s actually a nice guy. They really did double book this place, and he has a legit job, and is nice enough to take the couch so she can have the bedroom with the lockable door. The misdirection here is only temporary, and unnecessary. You knowing that Skarsgard isn’t the villain isn’t really a game changer, because the film has a whopper ahead for you.

The film starts playing with doors being open when they shouldn’t be, and seeing doors shut in the background when the main two are not paying attention. Something else is in this house. A ghost? A vampire? A property brother?

It’s not until Campbell needs more toilet paper that she finds herself in the basement she never knew this place had, where she discovers another door that leads off into… well. That’s for you to find out. This is very much a “What’s in the basement?” Film, and not “Will Bill Skarsgard kill me?” Film. The ruse is only a half hearted attempt anyway, and the film gives up on it pretty quickly. It just openly addresses the awkwardness of a woman being invited into a house by a complete stranger, and how much bravery that truly takes, and then to stay there. Really, the films point is that any guy, any actor, could have been standing at that door, and because of the power dynamic between men and women, it would have always been scary.

Then we have the other main character in this film, Justin Long, who plays an actor whose career is falling apart as he becomes embroiled in a @#MeToo scandal and gets wrapped up in his life falling apart, and his only source of income is some random rental property he owns in Detroit. So, he heads out to survey this property that he owns. That’s how Justin long ends up in the film. He’s a douchebag, and he’s also Justin Long. He’s played characters before that we haven’t wanted to see bad things happen to, which is why his casting in films like Tusk and Jeepers Creepers work so well. Because when horrible things did happen to him, there was always this puppy dog quality to him. Well, no more. Now he’s a rapist, so that instant sympathy is out the window. But, in some scenes, he is hilarious, and a necessary evil that has a shot at helping someone who does deserve help.

My favorite scene of the film is actually not even a horror moment. it is centered around Long’s character, when he arrives at the house, and his reaction to how someone’s crap is still in the house, and then he just goes about his business. He finds the same creepy door, but instead of finding it remotely weird, he starts searching whether or not he can include that extra space in the square footage when selling this house, so he actually takes out a measuring tape and starts measuring what (by this point) we know is past the door.

Zach Cregger is known to me as one of the founding members of the comedy group The Whitest Kids u Know, who recently lost one of their members in a tragic accident (RIP Trevor). it’s easy to assume that the director of miss March wouldn’t be a good fit for this film, but you’d be wrong. It’s just that this film will not be for everyone. it’s horrifying in some ways that aren’t scary, but rather just horrifying. Like, that feeling you get when you hear something terrible on the news. Someone left another baby in the car. Horrifying. Some of it is horrifying because of some makeup effects. Rarely is this film horrifying due to jump scares. It’s not that kind of a film, which is appreciated. It’s still very violent and gory, but you generally can see it coming.

As far as the audio description goes, William michael Redmond is perfect for any horror title. Without spoiling too much, I’ll say that someone’s head is pulled apart, and I ahve questions still as to how. I couldn’t tell if it was vertical or horizontal. I recently watched another horror film that had a lot of head trauma, significant Other, where they frequently referred to the head damages as being bisected. Here, I have no idea. Something terrible happened, that’s all I get. but, for blind horror fans that might have wanted to know more, it’s open to interpretation.

Due to the small cast, even with a handful of characters I ahven’t mentioned, the body count is low. But when someone does die, it’s in a very unpleasant fashion.

I can’t tell you what is behind the door. If you don’t care, and you’re open for anything then Barbarian is a perfect film for you. If you don’t do horror much, and you think this is a horror comedy or something, while Cregger does bring some elements in, this is truly a horrifying piece with some really disturbing plot details. It is not for everyone.

Final Grade: B

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