Horrortoberfest ’22 Day 1 – Barbarian (2022)

It’s a brand new year and a brand new start to Horrortoberfest. Starting off the festivities this October is a film currently still in theaters and with a pretty hefty amount of buzz behind it. Going in, I knew only the barest idea of the plot and that is certainly how I’d recommend watching it as well. While not a staunch believer in the idea that somehow spoilers ruin a movie, I do believe that the sudden wild turns that this movie takes and the ensuing mental whiplash is a part of what makes this movie shine. Though only a part of it, as I will get into in the mostly spoiler-free review below.

The main opening conceit of the movie is the double-booking of a rental property. Keith (Bill Skarsgård) is surprised to find a rained-upon and frustrated Tess (Georgina Campbell) trying to get into the house that they both rented for the same time period. After running out of options, Keith convinces Tess to stay and says that he’ll take the couch and they can sort everything out with the AirBnB people the next day. I will not get much further into the actual events that follow but lets just say that they do not, in fact, sort everything out.

This movie does a wonderful job of establishing the very real and logical fear that Tess has, even before anything horrific truly starts to happen. Georgina Campbell does a great job of conveying the social struggle of trying to not be seen as an asshole but also the very real danger she feels being a lone woman around a strange man. The film is willing to sit with the things that make the characters and us feel uncomfortable. The film revels in long, lingering shots of dark hallways and cramped spaces, inviting us to experience the same trepidation and claustrophobia that the people experiencing it feel and letting the audience stew in that uncomfortable position for a while.

The movie is able to seamlessly pivot from oppressive paranoia, to humor, to gory horror, to some very sad moments. Going into a lot of the themes and imagery from the back two thirds of the movie would be giving much of the plot away but I will say that the way the film deals with being a woman is quite interesting. Showing the different ways in which guys are able to interact with the world and how men feel comfortable going into situations that a woman would need to be wary of. It’s certainly a film that I would enjoy seeing again and would love to get a female perspective on as well. A great start to the spooky season.

If you couldn’t tell already, I very much enjoyed this movie and would recommend seeing it for yourself in theaters if you’re reading this while it’s still running. There are a lot of scares and scenes that feel like they would be less impactful on a small screen and the audience participation for those “don’t go in there” moments are one of the best reasons to watch horror in a theater.

Overall Score – 4.5 out of 5

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