Directed by Zach Cregger
Theatrical Release: September 9, 2022
Reviewed by Scott Baker
In town for a job interview, a young woman arrives at her Airbnb late at night only to find that her rental has been mistakenly double-booked and a strange man is already staying there. Against her better judgment, she decides to stay the night anyway, but soon discovers that there is much more to be afraid of in the house than the other house guest.
Writing reviews can sometimes be a difficult undertaking, particularly when your opinion doesn’t match the majority. I say this because I have received less-than-nice emails in the past when the opinion in my review didn’t match up with somebody else’s thoughts. Hate-mail is nothing new to me, and I certainly don’t let it sway my opinion…but I do feel odd sometimes when so many people laud a movie or a book and I wasn’t impressed with it.
Such is the case with BARBARIAN. I saw this movie in the theater a couple of weeks ago, and I left questioning what in the world I had just seen. I admit I enjoyed it as a whole, if only because it kept me wondering what in the world could happen next…but there are a few things about it that really put me off as well.
The first half of the movie was strong. The chemistry between leads Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgård was very believable, and I enjoy seeing both actors onscreen no matter what roles they are playing. Likewise, the suspense was top-notch; it built slowly and kept me squirming for long periods of time. Even the plot was mysterious and tense. With each new startling revelation, I kept gearing myself up for a huge climactic ending.
Unfortunately the second half of BARBARIAN is where things started going downhill for me.
I am not going to reveal any spoilers, but let’s just say things start to go ape-nuts pretty quickly during the second half, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Some of what occurred (including a particular flashback) felt forced…as in, added to the story as an afterthought. I know the reason the writer(s) left it in the second half is to keep from giving anything away, but that’s where it failed. It felt too out-of-left-field.
Additionally, the “big reveal” of BARBARIAN was a bit of a letdown. I felt like I was watching two movies as the second half progressed, as if the writer couldn’t decide which way to take the plot. And when the big climactic ending came, it came across more as a joke than suspenseful. In one particular moment that was meant to be dramatic, the audience in the theater actually burst out laughing. This is never a good sign in a serious horror movie.
With all of this being said, I am actually looking forward to BARBARIAN reaching home video because I would like to give it another shot. Maybe my expectations were too high…or maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I don’t know. But given the amount of positive hype it is still receiving, I probably need to doublecheck it and make sure my initial assessment is still sound.