Blast of “Barbarian”

Hot new film fills audiences across the world with a new perception of horror


Photo courtesy Imbd

A new horror brings fear to audiences eyes.

Michael Bartholomew, Staff Reporter

You would imagine when crossing state lines, that an Airbnb would be the safest option for your stay, but when Tess Marshall (Georgina Campbell), does just that she finds out that her house is double booked, yet a strange man opening the door wasn’t the only horror to accompany the house. 

Released in September of 2022, a unique horror film “Barbarian” was thrown into theaters receiving outstanding scores from critics. The movie follows a younger girl named Tess as she travels to Detroit to chase her dreams of pursuing a small acting job.

Warning. Some spoilers ahead

At the opening of the film, we find main character Tess, who has ended up in a sketchy Detroit neighborhood to find her Airbnb, when she races up to the front door to open the lockbox, she mysteriously finds no key. After banging on the door a few times, she decided it was time to give up and run back to her car. All of the sudden, a light flicks on in the house, Tess, making the common horror movie mistake, marches back up to the door, just to be greeted by a confused, and tired Keith (Bill Skarsgård) answering the door.

Something this film does so great is create optimism throughout the beginning of the film. Keith, having a creepy demeanor about himself, and his actor being in multiple scary movies previously as the villain created complete unawareness to audiences. 

After Tess is addressed at the door, she buries Keith with questions on why he is in “her” house. Keith quickly answered that he booked the house, not her. Both confused, Keith invited Tess inside. Hesitantly, Tess entered the home and immediately asked for Keith’s proof he booked the house, and also where the bathroom is. Coming out of the bathroom, Tess was worried about where Keith had gone when all of the sudden he pops out around the corner with his phone, confirming that he booked the house. Keith then invited Tess to share the house for the night and call the “idiots” who did this in the morning. Again hesitating, Tess insisted she found her own place for the night, but with a convention in town, there was no other option, they had to share the house.

The optimism at this point in the film is what makes it one of my favorites of the year, they way we have no clue on what is going to happen next for these two creates a perfect example of horror in modern day cinematography. 

Keith, being the nice guy he seems, lets Tess have the bedroom and he will have the couch. But Tess has “a thing about clean sheets” so he throws them into the wash for her. At this point in the film, it’s late at night, and also in the midst of a storm, so Tess went to the bathroom hoping to get ready for bed. When she walks out of the bathroom, Keith is creepily sitting at the kitchen table with the “complimentary” bottle of wine the house maids had left. Tess is creeped out, yet sits down for a drink with him because she feels she’s being rude. Tess and Keith end up finding that they have a bond in the acting industry, and they quickly become pretty good friends through that night. When the sheets were ready, Keith sillily showed him his way of putting them on the bed, and she headed off to sleep, still making sure to shut, yet not lock her bedroom door.

The booming sound effects along with the advanced camera angles, and transitions, make the horror and suspense in this film elite. thirty minutes into the movie I was sitting on the edge of my seat not knowing what is going to happen next, and honestly pretty scared. 

All of the sudden, in the middle of the night we skip to Tess sleeping, horrifyingly her door creaks open. We then see Keith having what looks like a nightmare on the couch. Tess uses her initial instinct to wake Keith up and ask if it was him that opened her door. He jumped up quickly sort of mad that Tess scared him like that. He answered with an annoying “no why would I?” Tess went back to the room worried, locked the door, and went back to sleep.

In the morning is where we get a more normal sense in this film, Tess walks out all ready to head to her job interview to find a good luck note from Keith, who had already left to do whatever. Tess smiled happily and walked outside. The horror filled her eyes when she saw what the surrounding houses looked like. From ran down, fire burnt houses to debris everywhere. The perception of confusion and unawareness is great here, and really shows how Tess does not know what she’s really in store for.

After Tess completes her job interview she goes back to the house to wait for Keith, When Tess finds there is no toilet paper anywhere she finally goes to the basement. But when the door closes mysteriously, she is trapped. She began to search the basement for a key when she suddenly found a rope that opened up a secret passageway. The passageway was too dark so Tess, being the curious person she is, makes a mirror to perceive light in the tunnel. After it was just dim enough to see, Tess entered the tunnel. The tunnel was not too long, yet when Tess walked in and looked to her left, there was a creepy, lit room, with an old bed, and a camera. This horrified Tess, as she began to get scared she banged on the tiny window and luckily, Keith, had just arrived home to help her push out the window, and crawl up. They now both entered through the front door together, fear filled Tess’s eyes, Keith insisted he checked out the basement and Tess begged him not to. At this point in the film everyone for sure thought Keith was the villain, but all of the sudden Keith never came out of the tunnel. When Tess went to check, she found a bigger tunnel, mine shaft-like, with the echoing sound of Keith’s “HELP”. Tess couldn’t leave him so she went down the stairs and found him, Keith was then accompanied by a monster-like girl who killed him in front of Tess, and took her “prisoner.”

The film then switches to new character AJ (Justin Long) driving in sunny California as he gets a phone call from his employees telling him there’s been very serious allegations made against him by a fellow female cast member. AJ needs more money for a lawyer so he travels to Detroit to sell some of his properties. The film does something here putting in a hilarious mix of comedy from AJ’s character creating the perfect mix of comedy and horror. When AJ reaches one of his properties, it happened to be the house that had Tess trapped in the mine-like dungeon. AJ, being the funny character he is, stumbles into the basement to mark square footage of the basement to sell the house. When the room is discovered we see him go in with the tape measurer to measure it too. He stumbles across where the Mother” sleeps and gets terrified when all of the sudden his tape measurer snaps. He starts running and in an instant we see him fall, and get shushed, but it was Tess, they were now together.

Now the film was really pushing towards a dramatic ending, I was watching this part on the edge of my seat and really wasn’t sure what to expect. The movie was just showing us hilarious comedy, and immediately switched to complete horror. 

When we get the R rated explanation on how the Mother” had ended up in the basement, we get a little disturbed as viewers, yet still very intrigued. 

Now both locked up, Tess begs AJ to be quiet and listen to the Mother, but he keeps yelling so he snatches him. Forgetting to shut the cage, Tess escapes the cage, and escapes the house. Feeling guilty, Tess marches back in to save AJ. AJ had come by a gun after escaping the mother. He then thought Tess was the mother and shot her in her side. Wounded, they both barely escaped the house, and a homeless man who knew what went on in that house helped them get to somewhere “safe”. And just when they thought they were saved from the horrors of the awful house, The Mother bursts through the wall and killed the homeless man, leaving the only place for them to run is the top of the water tower. When they reach the top, AJ being the slow thinker he is, throws Tess off the top to save himself, The Mother jumps off and breaks Tess’s fall. Now where she should have died, she was saved. AJ went to check on her, and was shocked when The Mother leaped up, and killed him brutally. 

The film ends with Tess sadly killing The Mother by ask, the major lesson learned from this story is that the mother really was just misunderstood and wanted to have a kid, after being tortured in that basement she couldn’t take it.

This movie really was a hit for me, I thought there was little margin of mistake and I really enjoyed the horror, comedy mixed in. When rotten tomatoes rated this a 93% I knew I was in for a surprise, and lets just say, they were right.