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Barbarian (Film Review)

2 min read

There's something to be said about going into a film with no preconceptions of what the film is about. It makes writing a review harder, but for those wanting to know if they should pay good money for this is the basics on what you need to know.

Barbarian follows Tess Marshall () a young woman renting an Air BnB for a job interview who finds that the house has already been double booked by community organiser Keith Toshko (). The two start talking and… well that's all we'll say here. The strength of what writer-director has crafted is a film that wrong foots you at every turn.

Cregger, who might be better known as an actor, has formed a film that doesn't easily fall into any typical subgenre. What starts as a stranger danger parable quickly gives way to something all the weirder, showcasing a knowing eye for the genre, what people expect and naturally a wit about why people enjoy these films. The jump scares, when they come, are well timed for maximum impact but it's the build-up and at times choice not to use the jumps that really put you on edge, Cregger builds tension perfectly undercutting it at times with a shot of something mundane only to go back to cranking the tension.

20th Century Studios

Georgina Campbell, known for roles in BBCThree drama Murdered by my Boyfriend, the third series of Broadchurch and brilliant Black Mirror episode Hang the DJ gets a role that shows off what she can do. The range in her previous work is on full display in one of the best horror performances of the year. Which, considering the absolute feast of brilliant women in horror acting this year is saying something.

She has a natural ease, and when things start to go, and they do go very bumpy, we are totally invested in her. Moments of character development, like her admission that she recognises her relationship with her boyfriend is toxic are moments that show she's not helpless, but she is grappling with who she is as a modern woman. Her choices are often smart, endearing her to an audience that already judge stupid choices as detrimental.

As the film moves into its third act it becomes more and more grim and gross, and for many that might be where people lose their patience with it, but what Cregger manages to do is toy with how we feel about characters. Do we have less sympathy for someone if they make a stupid a decision? Do we have more if a terrible person is in danger? It's questions like that, that show the horror genre can really explore how audiences switch allegiance based on actions and words. By the time to film ends you'll be worn out by it, but entirely satisfied.

Barbarian is out in UK cinemas now.