Movie Review: Barbarian (2022)

September 9 in theatres from 20th Century Studios. Now on demand.

The infamous Bates Motel has nothing on the vacation rental home at the center of Zach Cregger’s creative horror movie Barbarian (B), where two intriguing perfect strangers played by Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgård (“Pennywise” of It himself, a kind of Everyman without clown makeup) find they are mysteriously both booked the same night. Somehow there’s a feeling they may stay a while. It would be a Meet Cute if it weren’t so immediately creepy. Add in some toxic masculinity in the form of a crafty performance by Justin Long and some uneasy subplots which could make you wish for another infant formula shortage, and you have the strange elements of one of the most twisty terror fests of the year. Campbell is very committed to the protagonist role even though her mistake-prone character makes some outrageous decisions. Sometimes it feels she is playing into the audience’s delight at watching her make a decathlon of debacles, with parts of the plot clearly leaning into laughs. Cregger’s series of magic tricks, played so well in the first acts, sags a bit in the prestige. There are also a series of elevated horror concepts not sufficiently fleshed out. But overall it’s a bonkers good time with high production values (talk about a trap house!) and genuine psychological suspense. If you enjoyed last year’s Malignant or this year’s X, this feisty fright flick should be your jam.

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