Review: Barbarian | houston press

Title: Barbarian

Describe this movie in one The dead people Quote:

COLIN SULLIVAN: Look what happens!

Brief plot synopsis: Don’t go in there.

Rating using random objects relevant to the movie: 2.5 cubes of 5.

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Motto: “Come for one night. Stay forever.”

Best motto: “Not AAA approved.”

Not-So-Brief Plot Synopsis: Tess (Georgina Campbell) has come to picturesque Detroit for a job interview. But when she arrives at her Airbnb, she finds it already occupied by Keith (Bill Skarsgård), who presents her own proof of reservation. With no other options, and against her better judgment, she agrees to share the house with him. And then things happen.
“Critical analysis: It’s hard to review a movie that really rewards the audience for not looking for anything about it. If you are reading this and haven’t seen Barbarian however, rest assured that the setup described above will only take you for the first ten minutes. Everything after that? You’re on your own.

And we have already seen the concept of establishment, even this year, in gone in the night, in which a double booked property has similar grim connotations. If you didn’t know better, you’d think Hollywood has it in the vacation rental industry.

Writer/director Zach Cregger (before The whitest boys you know) goes to great lengths to make the mundane as sinister as possible (with the help of composer Anna Drubich): from a cup of tea to an electric toothbrush. The initial… I don’t want to call it “disorientation,” because much of what follows is a direct result of Tess and Keith’s initial interactions, and how the red flags are presented to us.

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Is Keith a good boy? Even after mistaking Tess’s kindness for something else? Should any of that matter in the final analysis? Are we more inclined to distrust him because he’s played with the bloody Pennywise? Am I stalling?

Other warning signs abound (or are they?). The Airbnb in question is somehow the only intact house in what looks like a bombed-out neighborhood. The lack of nearby hotels aside, it’s hard to believe many women would agree to spend the night alone in a house with a complete stranger.

Customer reviews are probably something else.

So yes: “the less you know going in, the better” is applicable to Barbarian for many reasons. The only drawback is that the extra details may allow you to make a more informed decision about whether you really want to watch it in the first place. To be honest, the unpleasant mundanity of the reveal and the necessary suspension of disbelief, both in the actions of the main character and in the climax, torpedoes many of the good feelings that could have been engendered in the first act.

Also? Despite the title, a sword is nowhere to be found. “Steel riddle”, my ass.

Barbarian is in theaters today.

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