The 2022 horror season is finally here! After “The Invitation” disappointed me a few weeks back, I was ready for a rebound in the genre. The story kicks off with Tess, a young woman renting an Airbnb for a job interview. Little does she know it has been double booked by another man. Tess decides to share the rental with this stranger against her better judgment. As the night unfolds, the two residents discover that the home has darker secrets then unfamiliar visitors.
If I were to describe the film in a nutshell, I’d say it’s like a roller coaster. It spins you up, down, left, right, flips you upside down once and comes to a screeching halt. In the end, it is fun but quite exhausting and unpredictable.
The first act of the film is really were it excels. The unsettling tone that builds as the two leads interact is phenomenal. We want to examine every angle of their interaction, seemingly waiting for this unknown man’s plan to unfold. I can confidently say the story goes in a completely different direction than anticipated.
“Barbarian” subverted my expectations a number of times and manages to craft a uniquely terrifying experience. What was also surprising is the amount of humor in the film. The tone shifts from comedic to unsettling rather frequently. I feel as though this works as a strength in the end.
The entire cast gives great performances, but Justin Long is the standout here. It is so great seeing him back in the horror genre. The setting is also very impactful in building such a creepy story. The house in a run down neighborhood is only the beginning. But once we are exposed to the underground passageways beneath the house, everything kicks up a notch. Very well done.
“Barbarian” is certainly comfortable pushing the boundaries and going for broke. This often times makes for a shocking and unique story, but it also means the film falters at times.
My biggest issue with the film comes in the third act. It feels choppy and a bit inconsistent with the rest of the film. It’s certainly different…but not always in the best way. I feel as if the film jumps around in tone one too many times. The jarring emotional experience that the story elicits doesn’t always make for the most pleasant experience as a viewer.
Some may really enjoy this divergence from the norm, but I believe some will be very perplexed by it. I’m somewhere in the middle. The creativity and gutsiness is nice, but at the same time, a more straightforward conclusion might have been more effective.
While “Barbarian” might not be the sharpest knife in the set this Halloween season, it’s definitely unique enough to warrant a viewing and will satisfy fans of the genre. It manages to stand on its own and create something entirely new. In doing so, it stumbles along the way at times. But you’ll never hear me complain about originality!