Review by Dan Skip Allen
You know it's Halloween season when every studio is putting out its latest horror films and series. Barbarian is the latest scary movie starring Justin Long, who also co-starred in House of Darkness, out in theaters and VOD this Friday as well. He seems to be getting better with age, or he's just choosing better films. Either way, Barbarian is another win for Long and the horror genre.
The film features two main characters in parallel storylines until they eventually cross into each other. The first storyline is focused on Tess (Georgina Campbell), who arrives at an Airbnb in a rough part of Detroit on a rainy night. When she gets there, she notices something is amiss. Someone is staying in the house she supposedly rented. A man named Kieth (Bill Skarsgard) opens the door and says he rented the house from a different website. They agree to stay the night in the house and figure out what's going on the next morning. The second storyline focuses on an actor from Hollywood named AJ Gilbride (Justin Long), who has some personal issues that cause him to go back home to Detroit, where he's from. He is the owner of the house the other two rented out. His real estate agent didn't tell him this before he arrived to stay there for the night.
Barbarian has some interesting story beats I haven't seen before. Writer-director Zach Cregger created a film quite different from anything I expected. When watching any movie, predictability is a bad thing. It seems it's an epidemic in the horror genre. Most of them are easy to figure out, but this film is original and keeps the viewer guessing from beginning to end. The story is that good — one of the most original stories I've seen in a long time in the horror genre.
With any good horror film, there must be some good jump scares, and this one has at least three bone-shattering scares. The company I was in screened quite loudly and frequently, which tells me this film did its job perfectly. This is the kind of film fans of the genre will love. It is the first real horror film that does its job as part of this genre this year. It's about time we finally got a genuinely scary movie this Halloween season.
Besides the jump scares, the film has great performances from its two leads. They play right into the film's dual plotlines fantastically. There is no inclination that these characters had any part in the final outcome of this film or where it was going leading up to the end. To me, that's great acting. I was not familiar with Campbell before this, but I was pleasantly surprised by her after seeing her in this juicy role. And Long, as I mentioned, is on a winning streak with the last two roles I've seen him in.
Barbarian is the best horror genre film I've seen this year. It has an original plot and great performances from its two leads. It's nice to finally see a good horror film to kick off this Halloween season, the season of horror films. The jump scares are plentiful, and fans of the genre will be pleasantly surprised by the story's originality. It's about time a horror film comes out that checks all the boxes this season. The renaissance of horror films continues this year.
Barbarian hits theaters on September 9.