The new horror film "Barbarian," released Sept. 9, came with a caveat agreed upon by all its viewers: go in blind.
This precaution is necessary upon viewing as it allows for the art of the film's plot, pacing and overall structure to be appreciated authentically. The shock value in the theater is priceless for this film; the experience of curiosity, confusion, fear and entertainment is done best with little to no knowledge.
The director, Zach Cregger, has few directorial projects to his name, and this film is certainly his first horror attempt. Given that, he develops an impressive debut, arguably creating one of the most original horror films to date.
The central synopsis surrounds a young woman, Tess (Georgina Campbell), arriving at an Airbnb only to discover it is already being rented out by a strange man (Bill Skarsgard). Despite her better judgment, she accepts his offer and stays in the house anyway.
This synopsis is interesting, but it has been used before. Cregger's writing and directing take this simple plot to an unexpected degree, leaving the audience guessing.
The anticipation and unease for this film were fantastic (coupled with an exquisite score) as audience members were left holding their breath. The horror is still a surprise, even with several fakeouts and a few classically-structured jumpscares.
The film is told through two separate acts, misleading the audience’s expectations from minute one. The tone change of the film is admirable, as it leaves audience members feeling as though they may have walked into the wrong theater for a moment or two. The inclusion of such dramatic color and music shifts, combined with surprisingly humorous content, creates a unique movie-watching experience.
The most fantastic part about this film is its marketing. The minimalist shots shown in the trailer, the casting of Skarsgard and the perceived concept of the film are all very strategic. They lend themselves to the twists and creativity overall.
While Cregger still paid homage to certain iconic horror structures before him, he ultimately created a very seamless original piece of work. And while the horror itself was certainly scary, the strategy and art of the film were thoroughly thrilling.