The ideal Halloween thriller is a little early. But that’s OK – see it anyway.
“Barbarian” takes the audience into their deepest fears … and then takes them a little deeper.
Actor Zach Cregger (“Wrecked”) transitions from acting to screenwriter/director in this ultra-contemporary thriller that’s all the better the less you know about it. Everything you will learn in this review is in the trailer, or at least it won’t come as a surprise if you’ve seen the trailer.
Georgina Campbell (“Krypton”) plays Tess, a young woman who has arrived in Detroit for a job interview the next day. She has rented a house on Aibnb, and pulls up to her temporary abode in a downpour.
She knocks at the door, and is shocked when a young man named Keith (Bill Skarsgård, who played Pennywise in “It”) answers, and seems as surprised as she is.
Tess and Keith have an awkward conversation. Because of the storm, Tess decides to go inside. They discover the house has been double-booked, and they can’t reach any property manager involved in the rental transaction.
Keith assures Tess he’s a nice guy. But she isn’t so sure.
The house is in a rundown, and possibly dangerous, neighborhood. Because there’s a convention in town, Tess doesn’t have much choice but to stay. While she warily makes up her mind, Keith appears to do everything he can to give her peace of mind.
If you’ve watched the trailer, you’ll know that the house is, uh, bigger than it appears on the outside. And it’s not saying too much to tell you that a third act brings in another character who also has connection to the house.
So who is this for? Obviously, mature audiences who embraced “Black Phone” from earlier this year. More than any other movie, it reminded me a little of “Don’t Breathe.”
But this is an original spin on horror. With clever directing, great performances and unexpected but believable developments, it works. Also, it has one of the best uses of a song by Donovan – one of my all-time favorite musicians – in any film.
Good luck getting to sleep.
3 ½ stars
Rated: R for foul language, violence, gore and disturbing images.
Running time: One hour and 42 minutes.
At Cinemark, Davenport, and Palms 10, Muscatine.
Watch the trailer here.