Spooktober 22, Day 26: Barbarian

Alright, beasties. It’s that spooky time of year again. For this edition of Spooktober, I’m going to do a post a day but, like a great haul after trick or treating, I’m hoping to mix it up and deliver some surprises. There’ll be reviews, new or old, seen/unseen, TV or film. Depending on my wicked mood, there may also be lists, audio, or video. I hope you’ll enjoy it and remember: stay spooky.

One of my most anticipated films of the year has finally arrived digitally and I was able to experience the unforgettable, and one of the more creative of the 2022 horrors: Barbarian.

It’s always smart to use an aspect of the current climate as fodder for scares, and in the day and age where Airbnb’s are commonly booked, it’s got its finger right on our pulse. And yes, Barbarian ratches up our heart rates.

source: 20th Century Studios

Could there be something worse than booking a house for the night only to arrive and have it already occupied by another? Well, yes, yes there certainly is, which we will get to, but even that is terrifying in and of itself.

When Tess (Georgina Campbell) arrives it’s late, pouring rain and she just wants to settle in. But, the key isn’t in the lockbox and the person she booked with isn’t answering. Then a light comes on, and opening the door is Keith (Bill Skarsgård) who also paid and secured the room on a different, similar site.

The predicament has Tess on edge, rightfully so, and she almost leaves and finds somewhere else to stay. Maybe it’s Keith’s charm or the fact that he has an answer or solution, for all of her concerns, but she ends up staying the night with her in the bedroom and him on the couch.

There’s most definitely an element played up here that keeps the audience on edge, suspecting, unsure who we can trust or what is happening, but just accepting the truth that this is most definitely going to get dark. The two have a great rapport, and bond over some wine, and there’s even a sense that maybe these two could have a real connection. If, they both have a future that is.

The next day’s light shows the neighborhood in Detroit that she’s in is completely dilapidated, with this being the only home still standing. Coincidence? Not likely.

source: 20th Century Studios

AJ (Justin Long) is an actor in LA that seems to be on top of the world until he’s accused of rape by a coworker. His life quickly unravels and his finances dwindle so he heads to Detroit to liquidate a property he owns. Can you guess which one? When he arrives and notices that it looks like someone has been staying there (or two) he investigates.

I’m not going to give much more plot detail than that, but I will say that there’s something sinister that resides below. Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, and Justin Long are all fantastic. Long despite being a rather dislikable tool at times, is absolutely hilarious (he always is) adding some lovely humor to color this grim, strange story with occasional laughter.

Writer/director Zach Cregger employs a lot of misdirection and ensures that Barbarian is quite surprising at every turn.

Certainly, Barbarian is one of our best treats this spooky season with ample mystery and pure entertainment value. It’s what you’re looking for, even if you don’t know quite what that entails, but the set design, acting, and perverse, disturbing twists, make Barbarian a worthwhile discovery. Just bring a flashlight.

Barbarian is currently streaming on HBO Max

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