Barbarian (2022)

Director: Zach Cregger

Running Time: 102 Minutes

Starring: Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long, Matthew Patrick Davis, Richard Brake

A fair warning, the best way to experience this film is by knowing as little as possible. For those continuing on, this review will attempt to be vague to preserve what unfolds. What can be revealed is how, prior to a job interview in Detroit, Tess (Georgina Campbell) books a rental home. Upon arriving late at night, she discovers a double-booking means the mysterious Keith (Bill Skarsgård) is already staying at the house. Against her better judgement, she decides to spend the evening at the home, although soon discovers there's much more to fear than an unexpected house guest.

For his solo-feature debut, writer/director Zach Cregger expands upon a relatively simple issue which seems nightmarish - an Airbnb mix-up. Viewers are kept in suspense as the story settles into its set-up, with the mystery opening up before their eyes. The film toys with Skarsgård's presence, as the visage of the man who played Pennywise the Clown is at odds with Keith's charm. Such conflicting feelings are mirrored by Tess, as effectively brought alive by a winning Campbell.

Rounding off the cast is Justin Long, excelling in a role different from the recognizable persona which made him a star. They're all part of a film which effectively tackles misogyny, the different ways men and women approach warning signs, and the importance of identifying red flags. Alongside those weighty issues are effective uses of empathy and humour alongside tension and creepiness, all making up a wild ride which highlights Cregger as an exciting voice in cinema. Go into this one blind, stay for the perfectly chosen end-credits song, and spend the aftermath wondering what just happened.

Barbarian had its UK Premiere at Frightfest 2022