Movie review: “Barbarian,” think twice about renting this airbnb


As of Nov 30. “Barbarian” has grossed $40.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $4.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $45.3 million. Graphic by: Ella Duncan

Summer Williams and Ella Duncan

Two strangers explore the basement of a Detroit rental home in this twisted horror debut that we can’t get enough of

“Barbarian” is a twisty thriller consisting of a modern day setting and history that stretches all the way back to the 1980s. Zach Cregger wrote and directed “Barbarian”, this was Cregger’s solo debut and his first horror film, realsed on Sept. 9 2022. Cregger’s interesting twist on a horror had every horror fan shocked. 

Our main characters Tess, played by Georgina Campbell, and Keith, played by Bill Skarsgard, turn out to be the victims of a double-booking scam. Tess, the main character, goes to Detroit for a job interview and had previously booked a rental house to stay at for the time being. Upon arrival, the dark pouring rain set the tone for what was to come. Tess gave a knock at the door and received no response. She continued to knock repeatedly until a tall, confused man opened the door. Tess and who we now know as Keith realize the house had been double booked and Tess is very hesitant when Keith begins offering to share the rental for the time being. Having nowhere else to go, Tess agrees to share the rental house with a complete stranger instead of trusting her own instincts. The house, covered in fancy furnishings and decorations, is on a post-apocalyptic street in Detroit.

In our opinion, “Barbarian” was very good and its non-traditional concept contributed to its quality and shock factor. The non-traditional aspect of the film can definitely be accredited to the fact that Tess was a woman as the main character and she was the sole survivor that didn’t rely on any men unlike the traditional concept of a horror film where women are portrayed as dumb or incapable compared to the male characters. 

Melanie True ‘26 said, “Honestly, it was the most interesting horror movie I have ever watched, like it was actually entertaining. I liked the main character, she wasn’t dumb and stupid.”

The next day, Tess is at the house alone after her interview and discovers a secret room in the rental basement, resulting in her being deeply unnerved by it. Tess finds that the basement door has locked behind her, and once Keith returns home he helps her out of the room. She immediately wants to pack her stuff and leave, encouraging Keith to join her, and he agrees but wants to see the basement first. Tess is visibly frustrated but waits by the front door. An unreasonable amount of time passes and Tess grows worried, so she goes down to the basement to see if he is okay. She finds a new room in the basement that she hadn’t seen before and goes down there to look for Keith. Once in the subterranean tunnels, she hears Keith screaming for her help and she finds multiple human-sized cages. All of a sudden Keith runs towards her from the opposite side of the tunnels and is severely injured. 

We are then introduced to the “villain” of this film and Tess and Keith are both attacked while trying to leave the tunnels by a severely deformed woman who is lengthy and nude. It is assumed that both are killed by this. At this point, the screen goes black and three weeks later we are introduced to an actor named AJ who we find out is the owner of the rental. He needs quick money due to legal allegations and decides to go inspect it so he can sell it. AJ inspects the house upon arrival and discovers the tunnels. The deformed woman attacks him and takes him deeper into the tunnels where he is introduced to Tess. Tess is the only one left alive between her and Keith. She tells AJ that he needs to obey “the Mother” the deformed woman and pretend to be her baby. Tess has managed to stay alive by obeying her and drinking from a large baby bottle that she gives her and now wants AJ to drink from. AJ refuses and is dragged away to a room where we see a TV playing an outdated 80’s program about breastfeeding. Tess uses this as her opportunity to escape. 

On a Nov. 16 Instagram poll on on Instagram with 91 VHS student participants, we found out what percentage of VHS students have seen “Barbarian.” They were given the options “I have seen the movie” and “I have not seen the movie.” We found that the majority have not seen the movie “Barbarian.” Graphic by: Summer Williams

Keira Golden ‘26 said, “I believe that she [Tess] was different because of the way she acts in the movie. She is very confrontational and faces the problem head-on.”

Something else that was new about this film for us, compared to other horror films was the fact that the assumed villain, the mother, wasn’t the real villain. The real villain was actually Frank, who was her father. Frank would show up to women’s homes while pretending to be a plumber and would proceed to kidnap them. The Mother is a product of multigenerational incest by Frank. She is not the villain, she is a victim. Frank is a true evil that isn’t just a “horror trope” in the slightest since people like Frank exist and that is what truly scares us. Even if you didn’t like the film this aspect of “Barbarian” is definitely impactful and interesting.

The screen goes black and we see a flashback from the 80’s where the rental is in a green and flourishing new suburban neighborhood. We meet the original house’s owner, Frank, who abducted women and held them captive in the tunnel. He would use the hidden room to videotape himself raping them, then rape the subsequent children, causing a line of incest and assumingly creating the deformed mother.

True said, “I think it [the concept] did make the movie good [since] it kind of led us to believe that this character [the mother] was evil, but she was actually fine. It was the man [Frank] that was evil.”

Overall, “Barbarian” was one of the best horror films of this year. Keeping us on the edge of our seats consistently. We anticipate what is to come of Zach Cregger’s career as a writer and director and can’t wait to see what else he brings to the horror genre.