My Cat Persephone Wrote this Review on her Smartphone. It was better than Mine. .
The Same Person
R for Just Plain Wrong At Times
In a weak box-office year if you don’t count Top Gun Maverick or that screaming goat Thor movie, the horror/thriller/training video Barbarian took home the number one spot over the weekend because what better way to spend 90 minutes in a theater and all that gas than to see a film that takes place mostly in Detroit on the big screen.
Wait, where are you going?
In the now burgeoning Airbnb horror subgenre, Barbarian is by far, the best one, lapping by a Detroit (8?) mile 2020’s limp The Rental. If that’s not a reason for you to go see this in theaters, it’s a pretty good one. Barbarian cuts a little deeper for me because the events in this movie actually happened to one of my relatives, namely my nephew Mortimer. I hope my sister isn’t reading this right now.
You should totally go down there
As stated, Barbarian opens in a lovely crime-riddled section of Detroit. A place where the cops don’t even like to show up unless you’re a white person making a complaint. We meet our 20-something heroine Tess (Georgina Campbell) and she’s checking into an Airbnb for a job interview the next day.
And before you ask yourself why Tess would want a job where the ration of spent shell casings and people are 1 to 1, Tess’s prospective job is far, far, far away but there’s a convention in town that’s taken up the less deadly/STD ridden lodging for the week.
Tess arrives at the house during a dark and stormy night. She confirms the reservation in her phone. She checks the lockbox. The key is not there.
Tess calls the rental office to complain but it’s past 11pm in a Detroit neighborhood. NO ONE is coming over anytime soon unless you’re giving away free pills with a lot of different colors and names with at least 10 syllables.
Tess is bummed. But it’s okay because she’ll just stay in her car where it’s super safe for an attractive woman to be alone.
Tess bangs on the house door just to be sure. Fortunately (or not) and man opens it and it’s clear he’s just been awoken. His name is Keith (Bill Skarsgard -It, It Chapter 2). Since he’s played by Bill Skarsgard you know Tess is in safe hands because nothing in Bill Skarsgard’s filmography would lead you to believe he’s not creepy as f*ck
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Anyway, it turns out there’s been a kooky mix-up and the rental agency double-booked them. What’s a single girl and a guy who’s played a murderous clown to do?
Keith suggests they try to make it work by sharing the house. No use kicking Tess out when she’s just going to be riddled with bullets before she reaches her car. Tess is understandably wary. Keith understands and does his best to make Tess feel as comfortable as possible. Eventually they do start to get along and sleep in separate rooms.
Then they wake up the next morning. Keith does his thing. Tess does her interview and gets the job and everyone continues to live happily ever after. The neighborhood gets cleaned up only to succumb to gentrification and whiny b*tches stop crying that The Little Mermaid is black. Because that’s what happens in movies like this.
Tess comes back to find that the house has special features she wasn’t aware of at night. A special room, to be exact. Filled with things that weren’t shown on the website. If Tess and Keith make it through another night, you can be sure there’ll be a strongly worded review on the rental office website.
Zero stars, Angel. Zero stars.
Oh, and Justin Long (Drag Me To Hell) is in this as well.
What Works With Barbarian
- Justin Long’s best onscreen performance since…that other movie in which a gave a good performance. Cast against his usual type, Long keeps you off balance until the credits. He plays off his usual onscreen persona well enough that every choice from him is a surprise.
- Remember the turkey baster from Don’t Breathe? Now you won’t be able to look at ____ without gagging. Thanks for taking common household items and turning them into agents of PTSD when you leave the theater.
- Writer/director Zach Cregger’s screenplay rarely hints at where it’s going so you’re always in the dark (sometimes literally) as to where the story is headed. The first two acts are so ratcheted up with tension that there’s no way the final act can live up to it. Can it?
- Creepy character actor Richard Brake shows up for a sequence and does his usual creepy thing. Every time he shows up in any movie you just assume he has children or old people in his basement in various stages of decay.
What Doesn’t Work With Barbarian
- While the ending is pretty, um, pliable, it doesn’t quite sustain the pitch of it’s initial setup. One of those horror movies where the more answers you get the less suspenseful it becomes. It’s still a very good ending, but it nowhere matches the high tension of the first hour. That it turns into a more standard horror movie is not a bad thing at all.
0 stars for the Airbnb. 4 stars for the movie. Barbarian is one of the best horror movies of the year though the hard working bulletproof vest wearing people of the Detroit tourism board might be a little upset.
© 2022 Noel Penaflor