Movie Review: ‘Barbarian’ could be horror movie of the year

Film subverts viewer’s expectations over and over for violent viewing experience



“Barbarian” is available to stream on HBO Max.

KESTRA ENGSTROM, Managing editor

Director Zach Cregger’s “Barbarian” opened in theaters and on HBO Max to mixed reactions from viewers. Me? I spent the movie on the edge of my seat on Halloween night.

Usually I would not include a spoiler warning, but you will not get the full effect of this movie if you know anything more than what Cregger wants you to, so consider yourself warned.

The movie is described to be about a woman who finds that her Detroit Airbnb has been double-booked, and she must share it with a strange man. Their jilted, awkward conversations in the beginning give the illusion that the man is hiding a horrible secret.

This premise is boring, overdone and barely scary. It is also probably the biggest red herring of all time.

We quickly come to learn that there is a hidden door in the basement of the Airbnb, which hides a tunnel that is home to a terrifying 8-foot-tall naked lady. The movie instantly becomes more violent and horrifying than you could ever imagine (especially if you were expecting a banal Norman Bates copy).

“Barbarian” features a shocking plot full of unexpected twists, especially with the total red herring of the initial premise. The uncomfortable pacing and time-bending jump cuts only add to the unease.

On top of the utter horror and gore, “Barbarian” is a morality story that makes the watcher question who the monster in the movie really is. Once you get past all the head-smashing, scary monster ladies and arms being torn off and used to beat people to death, there is a fascinating underlying message.

Before you turn on “Barbarian,” let your guard down and drop all the expectations you may have. This is one movie that tries to outsmart the viewer, and actually succeeds, without being smug about it.

Between the great effects, the equally intriguing and terrifying story and the captivating overarching message, “Barbarian” is sure to satisfy all your horror movie cravings.