Barbarian (Digital)

A woman staying at an Airbnb discovers that the house she has rented is not what it seems.

October 26, 2022 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Having only seen snippets of the trailers looking semi-interesting, these didn’t give the clearest idea just what the film was about. That is a good thing in this case as it really benefits the viewer to not know much going into this film. There are some moviegoers who prefer to know as much as possible, but I urge you to go fresh and you should find the experience very rewarding. It is able to mix comedy, horror, and various plot threads together to create a unique and effective modern horror film.

Since I don’t want to reveal too much of the film’s plot, I will tread lightly. What I will say is we meet Tess Marshall (Georgina Campbell) arriving in Detroit for a job interview. She drives up to her air BNB where she has reserved it, only to find that another person has it booked for the same night. The other guest is Keith (Bill Skarsgard). He is as surprised as she is, but lets her come in and try and figure things out. While Tess is more reserved at first, she eventually opens up, and Keith insists she stay the night there. He even lets her sleep in his room while he will sleep on the couch. She finds that Keith is gone the next day, but she proceeds to her job interview. After that she returns to the BNB and realizes she needs some toilet paper. She goes downstairs to the basement where she seems some supplies, but the door slams shut on her. There is a hidden door, and she decides to check it out. About halfway through the film it shifts gears almost abruptly. This leads to the introduction of Justin Long into the film. Long plays AJ Gilbride whose character relates to the central plot, but I want to refrain from more specifics. Some of the ads have hinted at it, but I won’t. His character has some serious accusations against him, and this leads to a crucial plot point. Suffice it to say that the film generates a lot of suspense, and Long in particular has some seriously funny lines. Even in a time of panic, the film elicited more than a few chuckles out of me.

I have read a lot of glowing reviews from the critics, but the audience reaction seems to be more mixed, with many praising the first 45 minutes or so. I enjoyed the film overall, and while portions can feel episodic in nature and like they’re out of an entirely different film, it all adds to the whole. There are some very random scenes, but in the grand scheme of things, it makes sense. You must give it time. The film isn’t perfect, and there could have been a bit more exploration of some things, but overall, it more than achieves its goal. I appreciated how it was able to juggle different tones without feeling awkward. The characters are nicely developed, and the small cast fills their respective parts perfectly.

Video: How’s it look?

This one’s a bit tricky. As we might expect, this is a new movie and as such – we’d expect nothing but the “best.” We get that…sort of. This isn’t a crystal-clear looking image. In fact, it’s got some scenes in it that had me scratching my head about how, uh…”ho hum” they looked. But once it sunk in that that’s how the movie was supposed to look, it made more sense. It’s a dark film, to be sure. The 1.85:1 AVC HD encode amply presents the film as it was intended. Just don’t expect a lot of rainbows and bright blue skies, OK? Having said all that, the detail is, by and large, gives a clear image for most of the scenes. The dark sequences, of which there are many, look pretty good though I found a few blips here and there. Then again this was a digital copy, so the disc might look a bit better. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t look “bad” by any means, but it just wasn’t was expected – like the film itself.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio mix serves its purpose. We’ve got all the obligatory caveats here with creaking stairs, wind outside blowing and things that (literally) go bump in the night. Vocals are pure and sharp, no complaints at all. I found that the surrounds were a lot more active than I’d have thought, though considering the subject matter I don’t know why I was at all surprised. It’s a good, solid mix that’s sure to please. I had no complaints.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Behind Barbarian – The only true supplement is this 12 minute EPK that has what we’d might expect: some anecdotes from the cast and crew, a bit about the genesis of the story as well as some behind the scenes footage.
  • Deleted Scenes – Four total, though none really seem to offer a lot of additional input/insight into the film. These were wisely left on the cutting room floor.
    • Tess Calls Marcus
    • The Rat
    • Bonnie
    • Doug (Extended)

The Bottom Line

Funny, scary, unpredictable, and resonating, Barbarian is one of 2022’s many surprises. The film had me very uncomfortable at times and mixes some comic relief at just the right times. It isn’t perfect, but it is better than it has any right to be. Recommended and try to go in knowing as little as possible to have the best experience.

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