Barbarian (Spoiler-Free): A Horror Masterpiece

I hadn’t seen this movie before it came to streaming and I may have to rent a theater to watch this on the big screen. 

When this movie came out, all I heard was that it was amazing. I had literally nothing spoiled for me about this movie and, honestly, I want to preserve that for everyone reading this, so I will do my best not to ruin anything.

A house is involved.

The best part of this film is that it actually respects your intelligence as a viewer and doesn’t completely spoon-feed you everything. While we get a few (honestly, maybe only one) expository explanations for events, much of the film is conveyed through either quick flashbacks, set elements, or just allowing the viewer a minute to figure out why some things would be the way they are. I don’t often see horror films that use your imagination against you as well as the first act of this film, because it makes you know something isn’t right, but you are not quite certain what it is and your mind runs through the possibilities as various horror cliches are on the table. The setting, being a run-down area of Detroit, solves a lot of the problems as to why the characters can’t just call the police for help, something that becomes darkly comical. Actually, much of the film is somewhat comical in the way that it paces certain actions or draws out absurd moments. It’s not that the film is a comedy, but it definitely has the flavor at a few points blended in with the horror.

A Pennywise is involved. Wait, no, not that.

The performances in this film are fantastic, with great work from Justin Long and Bill Skarsgard as two very different male leads. However, Georgina Campbell carries much of the movie and carries it flawlessly. The events of this film would traumatize anyone and Campbell conveys all of that without the film having to resort to cliched speeches or lines about it. Instead, you can tell with every scene how much has happened to her, even when we don’t see it all. Since writing this originally, I have gotten into an argument with someone over whether or not Campbell’s character is a stupid protagonist. I, like people who have empathy, think that her character just has a big heart that leads her to risk her own safety for people on principle, something that her background supports. However, if you’re the kind of person who would immediately punt the child out of the spaceship from “The Cold Equations,” then you might think she’s just being foolish.

Also, if you think (this kind of) stupid people deserve what she went through, then you are the monster.

Overall, this was just a great horror film and I cannot recommend it enough. Whether you end up liking the character or not, the structure of the film and the way that it plays out will probably keep you thoroughly entertained.

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