'Barbarian': A tense, twisted, and terrifying ride | The Haunted Column

Still from 'Barbarian'. Photo: IMDb

Dungeons and creepy houses in the middle of nowhere are common tropes in horror movies, often considered conventional. However, 'Barbarian' takes these familiar elements and transforms them into something far more unsettling. Directed by Zach Cregger and starring Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, and Justin Long, the film follows a young woman who discovers that the rental home she booked is already occupied by a stranger. Against her better judgment, she decides to stay the night, only to find that there is much more to fear than an unexpected house guest. The movie dives into a series of unexpected and terrifying events inside the house, defying typical horror expectations.

Still from 'Barbarian'. Photo: IMDb

At its core, the movie explores themes of abuse, motherhood, and much more. It explores how years of mistreatment can turn someone into a dangerous being. Zach Cregger masterfully misleads the audience into thinking they know the story's direction, only to surprise them with dark, twisted, and unexpectedly humorous events.

The movie leverages classic horror elements and the haunted house trope to its advantage. Yet, its abrupt shifts in style can be disorienting, with narrative changes often happening right as the tension reaches its height. Without giving away spoilers, the film keeps you engaged until the central mystery is revealed. Once the underlying reasons for the events become clear, the pacing tends to slow down. Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgård offer powerful performances, while Justin Long’s appearance brings a brief moment of levity. However, this lighter tone quickly gives way to a series of gory and absurd scenes.

Still from 'Barbarian'. Photo: IMDb

The movie cleverly leaves it ambiguous as to who the true barbarian is, making it a fun challenge for the audience to decide. Unlike many horror films that simply provide a thrilling ride and end with the message 'monsters are scary', 'Barbarian' offers more. It not only delivers the requisite scares and excitement but also inspires deeper and longer-lasting contemplation.

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