Sinister Screens

Barbarian (2022) ★★★



Some stay for a night. Some stay for a week. Some never leave.

In town for a job interview, a young woman arrives at her Airbnb late at night only to find that it has been mistakenly double-booked and a strange man is already staying there. Against her better judgement, she decides to stay the night anyway.


I think I am one of the last horror movie fanatics to actually watch this film. I blame its title. The movie Barbarian may be titled as such to emphasize the themes of savagery, brutality, and primal instincts that may be present in the film. The word “barbarian” traditionally refers to a person or group considered to be uncivilized, often associated with violence and a lack of refinement. But this title kept screaming sword and sorcery (e.g. Conan the Barbarian) which turned me off.

This movie has been such a staple in the top rented/watched horror movies at Apple TV that I finally gave it a watch. Most other reviewers I’m connected to gave it high praise. After watching it, it was definitely a good horror film. Just not a great one.

Georgina Campbell was great in it as Tess. Strangely, Justin Long’s character was quite an asshole which was a stretch for him versus his usual roles. The cast was great, but the overall premise of the film just didn’t work for me. It was very outlandish, knowing tenants have slept in the house without an issue, but the human-creature freely roams around the neighborhood at night. More believable if she/it was only dwelling in the hidden spaces beneath the house(s).

Director and writer Zach Cregger seems to hint at a disdain for Detroit, portraying its urban decay in a grim light, particularly through the Brightmoor neighborhood. This sinister portrayal contributes to the eerie atmosphere of a house with secret chambers below, where unspeakable acts took place. This is where the film delves into the disturbing realm of incest and inbred horror.

That is one reason why I thought Barbarian was unremarkable. One inbred human + one bullet to the head = end of horror + film. Also the backstory of the horror that took place in that house seemed jammed into the movie without any real potency. Altogether these things factored into why it really gets an average rating from my perspective.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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