Second act plot twist doesn't save Barbarian from clichés
Zach Creeger returns to narrative features thirteen years after his debut in Barbarian from 20th Century Studios. Tess (Georgina Campbell) is a young woman Traveling to Detroit for a job interview. Instead of staying in a hotel, she decided to book a rental home. But when Tess arrives late at night, she discovers that the house is double booked and a strange man named Keith (Bill Skarsgård) is already staying there. Against her better judgment, she decides to spend the evening but soon discovers that there's a lot more to fear than just an unexpected house guest.
At its core, the film has a creative yet apropos premise, especially when people book short-term stays through various platforms. Numerous opening kill victims from the horror genre discovered, "you never really know what awaits you when you spend the night somewhere new." You're especially vulnerable when you arrive late at night during a convention, making it impossible to find alternatives if your accommodations aren't satisfactory.
That said, I walked into Barbarian with a blind eye, not actually knowing what the film was about. I had a general assumption of where the film might go from viewing the trailer, but I was way off base. Other critics may spoil where Barbarian ends up going with the narrative, but I refuse to.
Barbarian starts with its general premise harking back to the slasher film of the eighties. While there were less than ten people at my press screening, should audiences come out for the film's opening weekend, I'm sure there will be a ton of talking back to the screen. Georgina Campbell makes for a decent enough heroine, with Zach Creeger's script giving her enough backstory for us to care about the character.
Bill Skarsgård continues to emote naturally creepy vibes, and ever since his terrifying turn as Pennywise in the It remake, he has been one to watch. Justin Long shows up in the film's second act as a Hollywood actor who screams tool. I liked how Creeger's script sets up for Long to make his way to Detroit. Initially, I thought that his character would have a connection to either Tess or Keith, but that wasn't the case. Horror fans will also appreciate a call back to Long's first horror film debut, Jeepers Creepers.
While I didn't find the film particularly scary, I will say that I had an investment in the story. Zach Creeger takes his time to get to the big reveal and uses standard horror movie tropes. However, one particular trope comes off s forced, and I would've changed it for a more effective scare.
When the credits rolled, I did have a whole been there, done that feeling, and for that, I'm positive that I won't revisit Barbarian. However, Zach Creeger does show some promise in the horror genre. More than likely, the film isn't going to considerable numbers in theaters, but the intended audience may find something to enjoy in the movie.
Final Grade: C
Barbarian opens in theaters tomorrow, September, 8th