‘Barbarian’ Will Make You Think Twice About Airbnb (Review)

Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

When the first trailer was released for Barbarian, it really set off the mood of what horror fans can expect. Tess (Georgina Campbell) is staying at an Airbnb. She finds out that she’s not the only person staying there when she sees a stranger (Bill Skarsgard) opening the door. Confused and with no other place to go, she reluctantly stays with the stranger, but darkness awaits inside.

The trailer doesn’t reveal much for Barbarian, and that’s a good thing because a lot of the surprises are what make the film a lot of fun and creepy. What’s inside the tunnel? Who’s behind the two characters booking the same Airbnb on the same night? Why is Bill Skarsgard scared? How does Justin Long fit into all this?

The movie is all about atmosphere and suspense, and director Zach Cregger takes his time slowly building things up. The first act has viewers watching Tess and Skarsgard’s Keith awkwardly interact with each other. Since we’re following the point of view of Tess, we’re not sure whether we should trust Keith. Does he know more than he’s letting on? And casting Skarsgard is perfect for this type of character since he’s known for playing creepy characters like Pennywise in the It films. The dialogue is clever in making him ambiguous. Is he a psycho or an awkward renter?

When **** hits the fan, that’s when Barbarian really takes it to another level. There are surprises and chills at every turn, and just when it’s about to go into high gear, the filmmaker knows when to slam the breaks. The film would have a lot of tension from the mystery inside the tunnel, and then it would cut away to something else, making viewers wonder what just happened. It’s a nice balancing act that really helps with setting up the world of Barbarian.

The second half of the film turns into more of a traditional horror movie, and while it’s still fun, the unique pacing is missed. It’s still a harrowing third act, but the tension is gone because of the location choice.

Horror movies are known for many of the characters doing dumb things. Barbarian is no exception, and viewers have to watch Tess do things that many people wouldn’t do. She’s scared, but she’s always trying to dig deeper because she wants to help strangers. We just have to think of her as a good samaritan who is still scared. One of the solutions is getting help from cops, but horror movies love to make cops incompetent or clueless or make the character look crazy.

Final Reaction

Barbarian is a disgustingly, horrific good time with surprises and shocks. The pacing is well planned and creates a lot of tension, and the horror aspect keeps the viewers on their toes. There are choices by the characters that will have you shaking your head, but those are the actions of a good samaritans with a death wish.

Score: 3.5/5

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