This is a movie that almost flew completely under my radar. Since its release in US cinemas back in early September, it’s already taken $40 million, not bad for a movie with a reported budget of $4.5 million. While the trailer does successfully manage to not give too much away, it is definitely one of those movies that is best enjoyed by going in with as little knowledge of it as possible. Consequently, this review will be as basic and spoiler free as possible!
Tess Marshall (Georgina Campbell) is in Detroit for a job interview. She’s booked an Airbnb in what appears to be the only habitable place within a long stretch of derelict and abandoned houses, it’s late at night and is raining hard. To add to her problems, she can’t get into the house as it appears to have been double-booked. Keith (Bill Skarsgård) has already settled himself in but invites Tess inside so that they can both try and sort out the mix-up.
Keith seems nice enough, and when they cannot get through to the rental company he offers to sleep on the couch while Tess takes the bed. He even washes the sheets for her and makes a conscious effort to ensure that he only opens the complimentary bottle of wine in front of her so that she can be sure he won’t tamper with anything she consumes (“There’s a lot of bad dudes out there,” he tells her). They stay up a while chatting and everything seems friendly and normal enough. But this is the guy that played a terrifying clown in the IT movies so you just can’t help but feel on edge that there’s more to him than meets the eye. But even when Tess wakes to find her bedroom door open in the night with Keith sound asleep on the sofa making strange noises, we’re none the wiser. However, there does seem to be someone, or something, down in the basement…
Barbarian likes to keep you guessing, slowly dialling up the suspense and intensity before suddenly twisting things around or throwing in a surprise. At times it can suddenly seem like you’ve switched to a completely different movie, which may sound frustrating, but just strap in for the ride and you won’t regret it. The performances are brilliant, the secrets and history of the house are terrifying and it kept me guessing all the way through.
Sadly the ending was a little stupid and didn’t quite land as well as I’d hoped, while some of the decisions and plot threads earlier on don’t quite hold up to scrutiny on later reflection. But despite all of that, Barbarian proved to be one of the most entertaining and surprising movies of the year.
Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.