Review: ‘Barbarian’ is best left unspoiled

Ben Churney, news correspondent

The phrase, “You never know what’s coming next,” is an audience favorite when discussing films. However, “Barbarian” goes beyond that familiar adage.

Barbarian is a horror-mystery film from actor and director Zach Cregger. The film stars Georgina Campbell as Tess, a young woman who has traveled to the Detroit area hoping to land a job with an important filmmaker. Bill Skarsgård plays Keith, a young, mysterious man who is also staying in the Detroit area. Their paths cross when she arrives at her Airbnb only to realize they both booked the same house through two different websites. The living situation mix-up evolves into a harrowing and darkly hilarious journey that leaves viewers feeling a wild range of emotions.

The film draws upon many women’s real-life anxieties by forcing Tess to stay with Keith, a man she has never met, who persistently urges her to spend the night. Thankfully, tension between the two characters lessens through the night, and Tess drops her guard when she finds out she has more in common with this odd stranger than she thought.

From there, the film morphs from a creepy comedy into a frightening horror picture — while keeping the laughs — that is best left unspoiled. 

Beyond the horror-meets-comedy plotline, the cinematography and lighting of “Barbarian” lend themselves to the film’s genre-bending effort. Long panning shots and meticulous framing build suspense that leaves viewers on the edges of their seats, waiting for the next element of the film to reveal itself.

Because so much of the film is centered on the contrast between day and night, lighting becomes a main character in “Barbarian.” Coupled with scenes where the only light comes from an eerie blinking flashlight or faintly glowing room, the film feels hand-tailored for the dark ambiance of a theater with a packed crowd.

The jumpscares, plot twists, laughs and what can only be described as extremely weird moments are elevated to a new level in this film. With all the makings of a true fright fest and Cregger’s spin on the dark comedy, “Barbarian” has the potential to become a classic in the horror genre and is a must-see for any movie lover.