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Barbarian; The Sleeper Hit You Missed

Barbarian is a 2022 American horror film with a masterfully crafted story that lures you in and keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. It takes you for a wild ride of twists and turns that will have you questioning every sound you hear in the dark and breathing a sigh of relief when it’s over.

Produced by 20th Century Studios, Barbarian is the first solo directorial debut by Zach Cregger. The film stars Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgard, and Justin Long, and premiered at San Diego Comic-Con on 22 July 2022, before its theatrical release in the United States on 9 September.

The film follows Tess (Campbell) as she arrives in Detroit for a job interview. While checking into her Airbnb the night before she finds out that it has been double booked and a strange man (Skarsgard) is already staying there. To her reluctance, she stays the night and soon finds out there is more to be afraid of than just the stranger, with a dark secret being hidden within the home.

Barbarian has seen praise for the film’s screenplay and direction at the hands of Cregger, as well as for the performance of its cast, especially Campbell’s. The film is a critical success and is considered a sleeper hit as it grossed over $43 million worldwide against the $4.5 million budget it cost to create.

Barbarian is pure horror in three acts, with the story being told from three different perspectives while using sound and light to add extra tension. This film works better the less you know, with its twits being a highlight of the film, never allowing you the opportunity to finger out what’s going to happen next.     

It is set in Detroit which feels like a character of its own in the film. Dilapidated houses and overgrown grass provide a story of Detroit’s declining suburbs, which is mixed perfectly with the horrors that we are about to witness in the film. The Detroit suburb of Brightmoor adds an extra level of fear to an already tense and horrifying situation.

Gregger said that he was inspired by a non-fiction book written by Gavin de Becker called, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence. The book is about instructing individuals on how to trust their inherent “gift” of their gut instinct.

Gregger has cited a section that “encourages women to trust their intuition and not ignore the subconscious red flags that arise in their day-to-day interactions with men,” this serves as an inspiration for the opening scene between Campbell and Skarsgard, as Gregger uses as many of these red flags as he could in their interaction.

Barbarian is a masterful thrill ride of a horror film and it is easy to see why it has garnered such high praise and is considered to be the best horror movie of the year. Creeger’s screenplay and direction make it so that you never know what to expect, as the performances from the cast lure you into a false sense of comfort, before snatching that comfort away and leaving you in utter shock.

The film is anxiety-inducing and forces you to look at every scene unable to turn your gaze from the screen no matter how badly you what too. If you are interested in experiencing this masterpiece of horror for yourself, it’s now showing in cinemas worldwide.

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