Linden’s Cut: ‘Barbarian’ movie review

Linden Lansberry, Commentary writer

Have you ever seen a well lit house and later discovered something much more sinister inside? The film “Barbarian” will remind you to not judge a house by its outward appearance.

“Barbarian”, directed by Zach Cregger is about a woman named Tess who is staying at an Airbnb in Detroit for a job interview. On that stormy night, she finds out that another man named Keith is staying there. Tess is very confused because she rented the Airbnb for herself and ends up finding a man inside who she has never met before. However, there is something far worse to fear downstairs in the basement.

The producers were deceitful to give the viewers a false sense of what is going to happen, but the true plot was never exposed in the teasers. Watching just one trailer for “Barbarian” before seeing it was enough to not give away anything important.

“Barbarian” is a ride packed with an immeasurable amount of tension; you never know what is going to happen next. This is the kind of movie that will leave you holding your breath because of the sheer amount of unpredictability. There is a sense of uneasiness in almost every scene.

The performances are terrific in “Barbarian”, especially from Georgina Campbell, known for “The Black Mirror”, “Broadchurch” and “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”. Her character has no idea what is going on and the audience can feel this throughout her performance. 

Bill Skarsgård, known for his chilling performance as Pennywise the Dancing Clown in “It”, is also great here as he brings a similar sense of discomfort to the character of Keith. When Tess first meets him, she is uncomfortable given that he is a male stranger in the Airbnb she is renting. 

At first, his unsettling attitude brings out suspicious behavior that implies he is going to do something bad to her, but eventually it turns out that he is a good guy who is just as confused as her. And when they do discover the basement all of that initial discomfort between them fades into a bond of survival. 

This film tackles themes of violence against women and being held against their will physically and psychologically. “Barbarian” pushes back on the stereotypical theme that the only perpetrators against women are men who take advantage of them. 

There are also themes of people being untrustworthy and terrifying solely because of their appearances. Specifically tackling ideas of how we as a society see the homeless population in urban settings. 

The only issue with “Barbarian” is that it takes around 20 minutes before the basement is discovered. Slow openings are not inherently bad, but in this case, it was taking a little bit longer to get things going. When things couldn’t get any slower, it becomes an insane roller coaster ride that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

Overall, “Barbarian” gets an A. Go into it as blind as possible and it will be an experience that you will not regret.

Linden Lansberry: Commentary writer Linden Lansberry can be reached at [email protected].