The trailer for BARBARIAN suggests an intriguing and pretty straight forward horror-thriller idea. Tess (Georgina Campbell, KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD) shows up at her Airbnb late on a rainy night and discovers that somehow someone is already staying in it. It’s a scary neighborhood on the outskirts of Detroit, so the other renter, Keith (Bill Skarsgard, ATOMIC BLONDE) lets her come in while they try to figure out what’s going on. They can’t get ahold of the owners, so she sneaks a photo of Keith’s driver’s license (just in case) and reluctantly accepts his offer to take the bedroom while he sleeps on the couch.

He seems very polite and cute, but of course that’s a reason not to trust somebody in a movie like this. Plus the motherfucker played Pennywise! So when weird shit starts happening and she finds a scary secret door in the basement you try to figure out if he’s up to something or if they’re both in trouble together or what. And you can sort of see where it would go from there.

Or that’s what it seems like. One question: why BARBARIAN? Why not, like, OVERBOOKED or SCARE BnB or whatever? Well because it goes a little further off that set up than you might expect, and I’m glad I heard that because it inspired me to go see it opening day.

I’m trying not to build it up like it’s the craziest shit you’ve ever seen, because it’s not. But it’s the kinda shit I like, the kind of horror movie that makes me excited. The right balance of tradition and innovation, of subverting expectations and satisfying them. It does a good job of delivering the tension and suspense of the premise as explained above, and then it gets more fun (and yet so much more horrible) when you find out what’s going on in the basement. It’s a good scare idea with some bursts of chaos, some gross out business, some laughs. More importantly it’s told in an interesting way that makes it more fun. There’s a novelistic structure to it and it really plays with the dynamics of sympathetic vs. unsympathetic protagonists.

Also, I’m happy to say, it is not about grief or trauma. You gotta have some of these that are not about grief or trauma. It does definitely deal with some current themes, but in the preferable way where it’s an added dimension to the horror proceedings and not the only thing that makes them passable. I mean, this is just a good movie.

I’m being vague because I really appreciate the restraint in the advertising campaign and that the movie was able to take me on a ride. There’s not some big plot twist or anything, it’s just that the way it unfolds and keeps you guessing where it’s headed is much of the fun of it. So my advice is if it sounds good so far (and you’re okay with some upsetting stuff) don’t read anything more, go see it, then come back. ‘Cause from here on out I need a SPOILER ZONE to discuss how it all comes together.


After Tess and Keith go through their dance of distrust and awkwardness, then start to know and like each other (turns out he’s a founding member of some collective of jazz musician squatters or some shit?), Tess accidentally locks herself in the basement, then discovers a hidden passage to a blood-stained room containing only a bed, a bucket and a video camera. Which I gotta assume will figure into the rating she gives this place on Airbnb. While they’re exploring dark scary tunnels under the house there is an abrupt, violent, partial answer to the question of who can be trusted and what’s going on here.

And then it cuts to a sunny highway in California where Justin Long (JEEPERS CREEPERS, DRAG ME TO HELL, TUSK, ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS) is driving a convertible, enthusiastically singing along to the radio like a dork. When he takes a conference call on speaker phone we learn that he’s actor A.J. Gillbride, and that’s also when he receives the news that a co-star has accused him of sexual assault, he’s being fired from the show he thought was being picked up, a story is coming out about it tomorrow, and he will need to hire a lawyer. I love how long it leaves us hanging with the question of why exactly we’re following this asshole and what he will have to do with the earlier events.

The answer is that he’s running out of money to pay for the legal defense and needs to sell off some property he owns, which is in Detroit. He goes to one of the houses, which is of course the house. Tess’s truck and luggage and Keith’s toothbrush and shit are still there. He calls the management to complain and is told it hasn’t been rented out in weeks. So if Tess is still alive she’s been down there that long. Uh oh.

And one of the most brilliant character moments in 2022 cinema is that when A.J. discovers all the same horror movie shit that Tess and Keith did earlier – the secret door, the bloody snuff room, the scary stone stairway and tunnel, even the fucking cages – they’re a surprise to him too, but he doesn’t react with horror. Instead he drags a tape measure through the place, excited to increase the square footage in the listing. So we can’t wait to see what’s gonna happen to this fucker.

He’s not just fodder. He becomes the co-lead. Tess finds him, tries to help him not get killed by the savage naked feral inbred woman who has been keeping her captive there. So we’ve got one lead we can root for and one we can root against, but she’s trying to help him so okay, whatever dude, I guess if you’re with her you can survive. If she wants.

The greatest trick it pulls is when, very late in the movie, A.J. makes a little speech about how he doesn’t know if he’s a good person or a bad person, maybe he’s a bad person, but he can’t change that, all he can do is try to make up for it by doing his best to do the right thing now. I totally fell for it. I thought oh no, it wants us to forgive this guy. It wants us to believe that this experience is changing him, that he’s going to find redemption through the gauntlet of horror survival. I mean, I believe people can change, i believe there needs to be room for forgiveness in this world, but this guy has barely acknowledged he even did anything wrong, and thought he could get away with a drunken voicemail half apology, now just because it’s a movie we’re supposed to accept that—

Oh, never mind. He almost immediately gives up on selflessness and does something more cowardly and dishonorable than we could ever have predicted. It’s actually shocking. There were only a few other people in the theater with me, but I heard appalled gasps. A beautiful what the fuck moment which is then multiplied by the absurdity of the action it leads to.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think this is one of the ones that certain faction of horror fans will pejoratively call “A24 horror.” Yet it’s able to step outside of the standard commercial horror format in its storytelling. People who have read my horror novel won’t be surprised that I love the part where it suddenly jumps back 40-some years to tell us about the previous owner of the house (Richard Brake, DEATH MACHINE, HALLOWEEN II, MANDY, 3 FROM HELL, THE RHYTHM SECTION). It’s a really well shot, creepy-as-fuck sequence that reminds me enough of the stalking early in SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE that it might be a reference. Hats off to director of photography Zach Kuperstein (THE VIGIL) and editor Joe Murphy (WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS).

It also made me think of DON’T BREATHE a little bit. It’s got that mix of effective thrills and uncomfortable queasiness, a willingness to go over the line, but leave the most horrible stuff to your imagination, so it can still have a (very dark) sense of humor about some of this craziness. Also its playful pitting of larger than life horror movie evil against an immoral scumbag who doesn’t “deserve” to survive in horror movie terms. I love DON’T BREATHE but I suspect this will go over better with some people, not because it’s necessarily loftier or more respectable, but it at least has one clear good guy to make the more ambiguous elements go down easier.

The more obvious reason I make the comparison is the setting of an abandoned Detroit neighborhood (filmed in Bulgaria), which is used very effectively. There’s a really creepy shot when she’s on the porch the first night and looks around seeing no lights on any of the surrounding houses. During daylight we see that they’re all abandoned with broken windows and graffiti. It gives this sense of isolation, this suburban but empty wasteland, almost post-apocalyptic. Also important: when she finally gets their attention the police are absolutely no help, more through indifference and apathy than incompetence. It’s both a relatable commentary on the current state of things and a pre-emptive rebuttal for whichever wiseguy pulls the “should’ve called 911” card out of their “why I am so much smarter than the characters in horror movies” deck.

There’s obviously a parallel drawn between A.J. and the unnamed psycho who started this whole mess. A.J. has all kinds of excuses in his mind why he’s not at all the same type of monster – he means it when he says, “What is wrong with you!?” to this guy – but maybe somewhere deep down he knows he’s somewhere on that same spectrum of men who see women only as objects for their desire and domination. If not, we do.

By the way, Tess was in town getting a job on a jazz documentary. I wonder if she still got to do the movie and if it turned out okay.

I was surprised to learn that writer/director Zach Cregger is a guy from the comedy troupe The Whitest Kids U’Know. He was on some sitcoms and directed and starred in the 2009 comedy MISS MARCH, and now all the sudden he made maybe my favorite horror movie of the year. So people can change, it just doesn’t happen overnight.


This entry was posted on Monday, September 12th, 2022 at 7:14 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

64 Responses to “Barbarian”

  1. I honestly had no interest in this one based on the preview. There’s nothing wrong with the preview. It just didn’t pique my interest. Then I saw your tweet Saturday morning, Vern, and decided I wanted to go somewhere with a big HVAC system that could filter out all the smoke in the air and voila. I’m glad you sent out that tweet because this turned out to be a doozy. I’m just heading straight into the spoilers.

    ********SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS***********

    They did a fantastic job of setting up Keith to seem like he was totally in on it and yet he played like he wasn’t so well you never faulted Tess for trusting him. Turned out he seemed so trusting and innocent because he was. Another actor probably could’ve threaded that needle just as well as Skarsgard, but he was so well cast there. I also really liked that Tess never really did anything that made me think, what the fuck are you doing?! Other than going into the house initially, which I never would’ve done, and going into the tunnel initially, which I’m pretty sure I would’ve broken the window to get out before going into that tunnel, but honestly, when you don’t know which genre of movie you’re in, it didn’t seem too out of the realm of possibility. But getting back to the moment she first goes into the house with him. They played that so well! There are so many moments in the world as a woman where you are torn because you everything about a situation makes it seem like it should be reasonable and yet you know that’s not always the case. It’s often a fight between your lizard brain and your logic and honestly, it’s sort of exhausting. But I still wouldn’t have gone into the house. Discussing the movie afterward, it might be the difference between East and West Coast, though. Living most of my life on the West Coast, I know I can hop on the freeway and drive not very far before seeing signs for lodging, but the little time I’ve spent on the East Coast, I know the freeway system is different, so maybe it wouldn’t have been so easy to find another place to stay.

    I’m impressed with how well Cregger did with all of the underlying gender stuff. Like another little moment is just how Tess was able to bury her ego and become the baby for The Woman (this is what I will call her from here on out) and AJ couldn’t take the bottle. I mean, it was literally just minutes since he fell into a cage after being chased through a subterranean tunnel by a naked, feral, monster woman, but still. I totally thought it was going to end with Tess and The Woman dead after he threw her off the tower and him going on his merry way, not really too upset or disturbed, possibly even benefitting from the entire thing, like he gets sympathetic press for being a victim/survivor/hero. I thought that was the underlying theme – straight, white men get to move through the world without much thought or consequence. Like Tess brought up to Keith when saying had their roles been reversed he would’ve thought nothing of coming into the house with her. So, I’m not quite sure what it says that Tess was the survivor. Maybe that women go through a mountain of shit regularly but are survivors, much like The Woman herself.

    What do you all make of the homeless man saying The Woman wasn’t the worst thing in the basement? Do you think he was referring to abductor/father? Obviously he wasn’t much of a threat anymore, but maybe the guy’s info was out of date. Which, I’m just going to let go how this guys knows all this stuff. But if it wasn’t the abductor/father, was there someone else down there? I kind of think there was. Because, who came up out of the basement and opened Tess’ door only to get frightened or startled when Keith started making nightmare noises from the couch and go back into the basement all quiet and sneaky? I don’t think it was The Woman because I don’t equate quiet and sneaky with her. She’d more likely go berserk and attack. Also, when we find Keith in the tunnel he said someone bit him in the darkness. Also, doesn’t seem like The Woman’s style.

    I think I heard a little too much hype going into this, because I kept waiting for something to set this movie on its head, something earth shattering. It is very well made, and I think this is a director who has some great movies in his future. But I think of horror movies that made me go “holy shit!” in the last few years, and this one seemed pretty straight forward to me. Well done, for sure.
    I think of the Wrong Turn remake/reboot from last year, and THAT pivots in a bonkers way that made my jaw drop. The big twist in Barbarian is that this serial killer and one of his deformed children are living in a secret tunnel beneath an airbnb. Is that such an insane premise that it warrants all the “you must see this before someone spoils it” tweets I saw this week?

  3. Right off the bat when this started I got excited. When you go see every cheap horror movie you get so used to the paint-by-numbers energy of a lot of them. But this one started up and even before anything particularly fresh happened, there was just a sense of assuredness from the camera and the music and sound design.

    Right away you can feel that even if the story doesn’t deliver like you hope (and this one delivered excellently), the director at least knows how to build a sequence. I’d been pretty disappointed by another recent horror flick so this immediately felt like a breath of fresh air to me.

    I didn’t know about this guy being from Whitest Kids U’Know. That’s really interesting because one of the things that I think makes this flick stand out is how it balances humor within the story. Like it is frequently really, really funny and is able to do so without deflating the reality or drama of the situation. It’s pretty cleverly constructed that way, and is particularly a big part of how they get us to enjoy watching a film about particular kind of guy.

  4. Vern: I saw the vaguely pretentious title, a YouTube ad, and Twitter dropping superlatives about it and instinctively started making the jerkoff motion. I was prepared to dismiss this outright, but you made it sound a lot better than what I pictured (what I pictured was tedium + brown hallways + blubbering white girl = this fuckin’ shit again), even if the twist seems to be more or less what the twist ALWAYS is in cases like this. Novelistic storytelling is usually a plus for me, I’m always up for a good SPOILER Bad Ronalding, and I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the HEREDITARY incident was a fluke and this one actually is funny. Like, on purpose even.

    Alright, Vern, you win this round. I will keep an open mind about this horror movie that came out in theaters that the internet likes even though that hasn’t worked out for me in at least a decade.

  5. A quick question about the humor: How much of it is of the cringe variety? I’d rather watch 85 orphans get their eyeballs pulled out with an apple corer than sit through five minutes of two people in a room behaving awkwardly, so that’s gonna affect how much effort I put into seeing this.

  6. MM with the Bad Ronald reference off the top rope. Feel like that was on the 4:30 movie every week growing up.

    One thing that did frustrate me about this, that I haven’t seen mentioned. I am more than willing to let a few moronic decision by the leads and victims in a horror movie pass. The “let’s walk into an unlit room”, “let’s split up”, “let’s throw my boyfriend’s cell phone in the lake” kind of crap. But this movie REALLY pushes it, to the point where it almost felt more like a comedy than a horror movie at times. I saw it in a full theater, and there was one point where a guy yelled out “Oh, come on!” at the lead character. The whole room laughed, and I think had to agree.

  7. JeffG – that’s interesting. I didn’t find that to be the case. What parts are you talking about? Do you mean all the times she was trying to help either Keith or AJ? I wouldn’t have called those typical moronic decisions made by someone in a horror movie because she knew it was scary or dangerous but was making a decision to go through with it anyway to help someone else. I tend to think of “moronic decisions” made by horror movie characters to be more like when they can’t see the obvious signs of danger right in front of their face.

  8. Spoilers
    Lots of silly decisions regarding going back, but even the whole section from when she walks to the gas station, gets the police, and is basically unable to convince them to go into the house. I get that was kind of a gag within itself, about how crappy these cops are. But a lot of the failing to call ANYONE on the phone (I was surprised they didn’t just use the “no service” plot device to get around that. Even early on, the fact that she doesn’t lock her door the first night when she has had her bonding moment with Keith, she doesn’t so much as search him up on Facebook after taking a shot of his license, she doesn’t do anything after he disappears in the basement, other than walk further and further into the dark tunnel, even though he is screaming for help. Hell, even after she runs over the hag, pins her against the house, and just walks away to (shocker) she has disappeared! And she wakes up the following morning, sees the neighborhood they are in, knows she has been double booked in the airbnb, why would she leave all her stuff in the house?

    And I get the whole AJ thing about him checking square footage is more for a laugh than anything, but that was a little much. Even AJ and Tess running into the hiding spot with the homeless person and not just plowing straight ahead to the gas station she was at. The whole scene with AJ hanging out in the basement of the owner/serial killer, watching him rummage through the night stand.

    I am probably nitpicking the hell out of it, and there were more moments, just not remembering them. But there were enough that I felt like it went from really a gritty, down and dirty movie to a silly, ‘let’s have a fun time at the horror movie’ type of film after a while.

  9. Joke’s on him. In Michigan, below-grade space does not count towards the gross square footage of a home.

  10. There’s something to the fact that some of the best horror movies of the past few years are being helmed by sketch comedians. I think there’s a similar flow to stand up/sketches and horror movies. Comedians know the importance of keeping the audience engaged as they take you along for the ride, and know the importance of landing the ending. I think skills that comedians gain at eliciting laughter can be used to cause screams too.

  11. Spoilers?

    Crustacean, they actually note that in the film – he is just hoping to add it in the notes of the listing hoping to add value.

  12. Majestyk, I was waiting for someone else to answer your question about the humor in this, but since no one has, I’ll do it. No, it’s not cringe comedy. I hesitated to answer because I honestly don’t have a very good handle on the humor in this. For one thing, I really don’t think there is much humor, so I’m obviously missing something. I can only think of 3 to 4 times it was used. The most obvious being the measuring tape scene Vern describes in the review. I would say that the humor is more ironical in nature than anything else. One of the other times I think of as humorous is a character says, This Thing has never, ever happened. Only for .2 seconds later to have This Thing happen in a totally bonkers way with ridiculously gruesome consequences. The other ironically humorous moment I’m sure of is the song playing over the credits. Other than that, if there was humor, I missed it. Well, except a silly moment between the 2 people in the house before all the scary stuff happens. I don’t think it’s meant to really be funny. It’s just a goofy moment between the characters, showing their growing connection. I think some people, including Vern, think this part he talks about in the review – “He almost immediately gives up on selflessness and does something more cowardly and dishonorable than we could ever have predicted. It’s actually shocking. There were only a few other people in the theater with me, but I heard appalled gasps. A beautiful what the fuck moment which is then multiplied by the absurdity of the action it leads to,” is humorous and while I can see that it’s shocking and finishes with a batshit moment, I wouldn’t have called it humorous. So, hopefully that helps.

  13. A really good discussion of the film, and an interview with the director, on The Big Picture pod which is well worth listening if you have seen this. It is definitely making me reevaluate it, and has me wanting to see it again.
    The Big Picture pod, btw, is awesome.

  14. I’m down with whoever said this turns into a spookablast at about the Justin Long point, which is kinda the twist–a From Dusk Till Dawn thing where the premise quantums from maybe erotic thriller to SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS The Hills Have Eyes: Urban Harvest. Which is fun… not sure about the scene where AJ essentially confessed to being a rapist, that felt like letting the audience off the hook with “get it? you should hate this guy! Enjoy him being sexually assaulted as punishment for being a sexual assaulter!”

    I feel like a woman as smart as Tess would’ve texted a friend the details of Keith and the double-booking, so after a few days of being incommunicado she’d be declared missing and the cops would’ve searched the house/known she was a missing person when she ran up to them saying she’d been abducted. But I guess nowadays you get to write horror movies with cops that are as useful as a third nipple and excuse it as a political statement. “Ha ha, ACAB, amirite?” Likewise male characters. “Ha ha, Believe Women, amirite?”

    But, you know, spookablast.

  15. Kaplan – here’s what I liked about that moment: it felt truthful. That monologue he gives about how he was “aggressive, but she was down” feels exactly the kind of bullshit a guy like that, who doesn’t want to face up to the kind of monster he is, would tell himself. Total denial, which (character-wise) is a counterpoint to her hyper-vigilance about the meaning of every moment in the first part of the movie. I don’t mind if a movie is trying to make us feel like he sucks, as long as it does it truthfully. And that monologue (delivered perfectly by Justin Long, who was excellent throughout) passed the smell test for me.

  16. I know, they probably did it as naturally as it could be done, and after that the movie goes full horror and there’s not time to get into it. So it is a good time to put all cards on the table. But a part of me wonders if ambiguity wouldn’t be better. You’re already 95% sure they’re not going to redeem the accused rapist, so making it 100% felt a little like a bridge too far. But I do like the idea that he has an epiphany about what a creep he’s been, only to immediately forget that ‘epiphany’, and *then* go right back into “I’m not *that* bad” when it’s convenient. It’s just enough subversion to liven up an otherwise conventional monster movie ending.

  17. Yeah. I actually fell for his moment of self-realization, so it all worked well for me — I was part of the collective gasp when he then SPOILERS her off the SPOILER SPOILER, and I really enjoyed it. I see what you’re saying, that having enough ambiguity is critical to believing this character has the potential to be redeemed in the narrative. But as a viewer I was really glad that the movie chose the moment it did to answer the exact questions I was wondering at that exact moment: “What are the facts?” (yes, there was sexual intercourse) and “what’s his perception of what happened?” (he can’t acknowledge what he did). Without those questions being addressed at that point in the narrative I think it would have been a speed bump, we don’t want to still be wondering about those answers once his narrative dovetails with hers. Another reason I think it didn’t bother me that he was being painted unambiguously as a rapist is that in the horror genre, bad characters don’t necessarily need to be redeemed in order to triumph. You’ve got 50/50 chance at a nihilistic ending in horror, so who knows while you’re watching it?

  18. Yeah, I think that aspect works perfectly because first it messes with my contradictory instincts of “this guy is a piece of shit” and wanting a doofus character played by Justin Long who’s trapped in a dungeon to be able to escape. And I suspect that my response to his little speech – thinking “oh no, they’re trying to give him some bullshit redemption arc” was exactly the intended reaction, because it gives you so little time to be mad about it before letting you off the hook (and getting more mad at him).

  19. Long’s apology/non-apology voicemail worked very well for me, I actually thought it was a great moment. I think it was his lawyer, maybe his friend, who knew he was going to do it, warning him earlier against making the call. It just builds on how self absorbed the character is. And it makes the fact that he is trying to tape measure a basement with a torture room all the more understandable. Yes, I think a lot of it is played for laughs, but the voicemail scene seemed entirely believable.


    Dont know about you, but MY favorite part of was when Tess first goes down the stairs to help the Skarsgard, and an elderly couple, clearly in the wrong theater and VERY hearing impaired, loudly enter and make their way to the front row of the empty theater with a bright flashlight and stay for 10 minutes, with the flashlight on, before realizing their mistake and loudly leaving.

    Pure cinema!

    In all seriousness, I dug this a lot. Everyone saying to avoid previews and spoilers et al. made me think there was some bonkers stuff about to happen, like Malignant or something. Liked how this was more low key but still delivered on multiple levels.

  21. I liked it. Yeah, I think the actual plot is pretty conventional for horrow and it’s more the structure that makes it feel unique, though maybe with a bit of a downside due to other factors




    The move having two different acts of build-up to get to the same point gives it a bit of a stop and start feel and the runtime kinda seems to require having to leave out some substantial stuff. It seems odd to me that Tess’s WEEKS of captivity are completely off-screen, and I think it’s because I think we had that big cliffhanger moment where she meets The Mother, then we have to wait to learn what happened. If they switched the two acts around so we first meet her when Long does, and then immediately flashback to show who she was and how she got there, we’d have gotten enough of a question and answer to not care so much about that missing time. Though the movie would have to be marketed differently and Long’s section would feel different without the dramatic irony.

    I’m also curious as to what the Mother and her dad were living off of if he was bed bound and couldn’t leave to get groceries. Was she hunting and stealing shit when she went out at night? That could been another thing so show.

    The ambiguity about Long in some respect feels a little pointless because with the conventional handling of those things, especially in the current climate, when has the outcome of this sort of plot element ever been different? It’s very hard for a writer/filmmaker to depict a rape accusation as false and not come across like they’re not trying to push a misogynistic agenda. It would take a lot of work, and given the movie presents only one side (the accuser doesn’t appear and her only line is a voicemail message)and that side is pretty damning to itself with the conduct of the guy, did anyone REALLY think it was plausible he didn’t do it? GONE GIRL’s the only movie off the top of my head that managed to pull off such a thing, and that’s because it was with a side-character being a victim of a character and a story that wasn’t meant to be all that grounded.

  22. Inspector Hammer Boudreaux

    October 4th, 2022 at 10:29 pm

    Maybe I shouldn’t admit something this shameful in this forum, but I went to see BARBARIAN tonight, and did something I did before: I noped the fuck out. It was too intense for me. Of course, that’s not an insult where horror in concerned. I got to the part where she finds the room, the handprint (was there a cutaway there, or am I just imagining it?) and I couldn’t take it. I’ve never done this before. I will definitely have 3 or 4 drinks and go see this again.

    I guess a big part is I’ve always been afraid of AirBnBs for what sure seemed to be exactly the premise of the movie. I’ve only stayed in one once, and it wasn’t my choice.

  23. Inspector Hammer Boudreaux

    October 4th, 2022 at 10:31 pm

    I hasten to add I’ve never ever fled a horror movie because I was too scared before. Gotta retain some honor around here. I don’t feel too ashamed, because A) it proves I’m not totally desensitized; B) hey, it means some highs are left to come.

  24. I went into this knowing as little as possible and had a great time. It’s legit scary but simultaneously darkly funny. Justin Long is perfectly cast. Lots of zigs and zags. Great little story details– her leaving he house the next morning and seeing the condition of the neighborhood, for example. Great editing! I loved the cut to the shot where you see the washing machine has stopped spinning– it conveys the passing of time and how the two have begun to like each other. And the little shots of her phone, etc., where you’re seeing what the characters are realizing.

    Title-wise, it’s a shame that GET OUT and NOPE were already taken. I have never wanted to shout at the characters on the screen as much as I did here.

    When it cut to black right after the scary thing happened in the first act, I audibly said “The end” a little too loud in the theater. But from interviews with Creeger, it sounds like that’s where his original writing exercise ended, and then he worked to figure out what would happen next when expanding to a feature script.

  25. This is on HBO Max now; looking forward to checking it out this weekend.

  26. Yeah, I caught this on HBO. The layout of everything from the hidden cellar door on—it almost invoked an ALIEN derelict-like feeling of “how did all of this shit get here?” A lot of questions are left half-answered or not at all. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t, but I thought it worked fairly well here. And the casting of Skarsgard was smart, playing on his horror-movie cred from the IT films.

    I feel like the movie collapsed a bit in the home stretch and just kind of crawled over the finish line. But in all, there were solid performances, an interesting structure, and enough true “what the fuck???” moments to give me a solid Friday-night escape so I’d give it a thumbs up.

  27. Watched this last night to celebrate Devil’s Night (especially appropriate since the movie was set in Detroit). Overall, I really liked this up until one very specific point where it lost me. SPOILERS, obviously: They sort of hand-wave the “Mother” as being the result of several generations of incest which, ok. But were they trying to say that generations of incest make people superhuman? Because the Mother was ripping off arms, crushing skulls bare-handed, leaping incredible heights, etc. As a horror fan, I’m generally used to superhuman killers and all but everything else in this movie felt grounded to some degree and very much non-supernatural, so when the emaciated basement dweller seemed to have a sort of Kryptonian power set they lost me. But, man, I was loving everything else about it so maybe I’ll be more forgiving on a rewatch sometime. (One other minor quibble is that nobody in Detroit in the 70s or 80s or whenever the flashback took place would refer to the power company as ‘DWP’. It would definitely be Detroit Edison or DTE. But I recognize that I’m being very pedantic here)

    I also want to give a shout out to Bill Skarsgard, who is turning out to be one hell of an actor in my opinion. He absolutely nailed the “is he actually nice and just a little awkward or is he actually a monster” feel which made the first act so compelling.

  28. I thought this was going to be a slower-paced moody horror, no idea what was coming…it was fantastic. Loved the structure of the thing. Good characters, had shocking surprises but always was fun.

  29. Loved it.

    I think it had been overhyped a little for me – too many people saying ‘you wont believe where this goes!’ kinda thing – and it has the energy of a spookablast-style movie, but not quite the craziness… but still, what a great movie. The first half hour would be a killer short on its lonesome, and the way they extend it to feature length was really clever and imaginative.
    The humor definitely relies less on jokes, and more on humorous but organic developments and the script fucking with our horror literacy. Gotta respect a movie that’s this funny and playful and still works as a straight genre exercise.

    When Justin Long goes through the VHS collection of all of Father’s victims, I dunno… I thought it was setting up a people-behind-the-stairs-type monster mob to break out at any moment. And as smartly and believably as everyone behaves at times, there are a lot of ‘why the hell didn’t you?’ moments in the script, especially in the first part. That’s a minor complaint, though, and it falls well within genre convention territory.
    What a fun movie.

  30. Yeah, I caught up with this one last weekend and liked it a lot. I agree that it’s nowhere near as crazy as people weaned on boring-ass modern nothing-happens horror think it is (the twist is what the twist always is in situations like this) but the storytelling is so assured and novelistic that it gives the film a unique flavor. However, I don’t agree that the characters behaved smartly at any point. I pretty much decided this was SHITTY DECISIONS: THE MOTION PICTURE. Like, when you’re a tiny little slip of a girl and a 6′ 3″ Swedish giant is somewhere in the dark screaming his head off, how exactly do you think you’re going to be able to handle whatever is down that there he couldn’t? Especially since she didn’t know at that point that the cops are fucking useless. There were about 50 points when each one of these characters should have noped immediately the fuck out. I kinda figured that was the point. It’s a “Yell at these idiots on the screen” type movie. That’s the fun of it, in my opinion. You know they’re making the worst possible calls and have no choice but to go along with them anyway.

    Good movie. I’d like to see a sequel that picks up immediately afterward, HALLOWEEN 2 1.0-style, so we can see some of these even-worse things the homeless guy was talking about. They definitely left enough backstory on the table to fill out at least a trilogy before they run it into the ground.

  31. Maybe smartly was too strong a word, but mostly understandable, at least. I thought Tess going down to go after Pennywise was perfectly believable – at that point in the movie she’s thinking ‘fell in something and can’t get out’ rather than ‘being suckled by murdermom.’
    But yeah, there’s a hell of a lot of questionable choices mixed in with the believable ones. And (again) yeah, of the sort that are perfectly fine within this sort of thing. I just found it a little disappointing because the script does get right a lot of other little details.

  32. Audiences always look downat people in horror movies for making dumb decisions…because WE know they’re in a horror movie. They don’t. I know a lot of people who do stupid shit thta in a horror movie would mean death…but in real life, nothing happens and no one cares that you trespassed on this sacred ground or went in the creepy cave. Also it ignores actual human psychology, people DO shit they even know they shouldn’t do all the time, to be polite, or out of curiosity, etc.

  33. I had never seen even a trailer for this. I just watched it off the pre-spoiler portion of this review here. I know Vern knows the horror genre as well as he knows action so I give it a whirl on HBO Max. This is was a better Silent Hill movie than the actual Silent Hill movies is probably the most apt description without going deeper into it. 2022 has been a weird year for mainstream horror but stuff like this, X and even SMILE to a certain extent make me think we’re in for a good wave in the 2020s overall.

  34. These have really been a good past few years for horror…a wide variety of types, tones, and budgets. The last 5-6 years a least.

  35. Muh, I think you’re exactly right. Barbarian captured the way people pressure or guilt you socially into violating your better judgment. She doesn’t want to abandon her new friend even though he didn’t listen to her, and casting Skarsgard is playing the audience’s expectation that he’s the bad guy.

  36. In a surprising move, the movie gets dumped straight to Disney+ in Germany after christmas. Thanks, Iger.


    Not even sure where to start with this. I rented this one feeling pretty psyched. Lots’s of good word of mouth. And I hated it.

    First 40 minutes are pretty great, then right off the rails, on purpose, I get that, but still.

    Richard Brake and Justin Long are both such type-specific actors with already strong associations, each one’s introduction takes me right out of the film into some other film or set of films, like if Ice Cube and Amy Schumer each popped up in the middle IT FOLLOWS and did their usual schtick as if it were a character in the film. WTF? Distracting as hell.

    And is it still all in good, clean fun to anchor a horror film in the “children of incest are giant mutant monster freaks” trope? I liked WRONG TURN 1 as much as the next 20 year-old horror fan watching it 20 years ago, but it seems mean and gross and played out to 40-something year-old me today, especially for a film that postures as socially aware horror that has subtext about the issues of the day. I’m also like, how many Detroit-as-hell-on-earth baby-making rape dungeon films do we need in a 10 year-period?

    In the end, this was a little all over the place, with too many mometum killing character introductions and tone/location/time jumps. Choppy, tonally a mess, and yawn-level “smart” social commentary with one exceptionally unique hot take (women are strong, rapey white bros are not cool, the police don’t care, incest monsters are gnarly dude).

    We had a beautiful first 40 minutes, BARBARIAN. Nothing can take that from us, except maybe a good head-bashing from a super-human incest monster vampire lady.

  38. I kinda wonder how that first hour would’ve played with a white woman and a black man, so instead of just “is he a killer or not?” it’s “is he a killer or not or is he going to get Emmett Tilled?”

    But that might be a bit too much social commentary for the elevated horror crowd…

  39. Also saw this a few weeks ago based on positive opinions, but I really liked it. It’s definitely a feminist/all men are terrible version of GET OUT, but I think they did that stuff pretty well, so fair game to them. Hell, I think the message and themes of this one are better and more cogently done than GET OUT.

    I sorta disagree with Vern. Justin Long, for me, was such a funny terrible asshole in this movie that I wouldn’t mind him getting a redemption. But what they did definitely works.

    I was sorta giving up on keepin’ up with modern horror, because I ended up annoyed with most of the hype releases, but this Halloween season I checked out some newish stuff, and I enjoyed most of it. Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age.

  40. As backstory to my decision to found a mothers against incest tropes advocacy group, I should note that I took a college-level course on evolution, and one of the tangents the instructor went on was how a majority of children born to incest look and act normally and how Cleopatra was almost certainly a child of incest. Which was a weird tangent to go off on, especially when I give it to you here out of context, but, fwiw, I did not get a pro-incest vibe off the professor, it made sense in context (he was talking about genes and shit, plus, he liked to go off on all sorts of weird tangents, most of which are even less relevant to this film).

    I joke, but I am not really joking about the issue, though. It does seem like the kind of thing where people will look back in some number of yearss and say it was pretty offensive to leverage “it’s an incest kid” as a go-to backstory trope for super-human monster freaks. I probably would have given that trope and Richard Brake’s whole presence more of a pass if this were some Not Another Rob Zombie Movie wannabe grindhouse joint, but this film clearly wants to maintain its I HAVE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT ALL THE ISSUES vibe throughout vs. truly going off script into pure exploitation. This film wants to go off script into exploitation without surrending its I HAVE IMPORTANT THINGS TO SAY teachable moment-ism energy, which is an odd mix, plus,all the things this film has to say about the issues are the most obvious pandering cliches, besides maybe “main indifferent cop is … black?! what?!?!!?” (insert galaxy brain meme here). I think you are right, Daniel Strange, with the GET OUT comparison (except I think GET OUT is the much better film), but, life comes at you fast, and this film’s commentary is some bingo list weak sauce.

  41. It’s a silly, fun horror movie that unfortunately goes far out enough into *Talking About Issues* territory that it sets off the radars of *People Who Want Politics Out of Their Movies* (who will hate for being too progressive), *People Who Are For That Sort of Thing But Would Rather it Was Thought Out Better* (I sometimes fall into this group if a movie rubs me the wrong way), and *People Who Are For That Sort of Thing Except All Movies Should Only Be About That Sort Of Thing Who Cares About Anything Else* (who will always find ways a movie isn’t strident enough).
    Disney does it all the time, but I guess at this point people know what to expect from them; horror doesn’t get a free pass, though. I think Last Night in Soho also fell into this trap.

    FWIW, I think this movie knows exactly how ridiculous the premise is, what with the monster being a beefy Gollum type within what, a single generation? It’s doing important work promoting awareness against Evil Incest, which is obviously biologically distinct from regular incest.

  42. Well said, dread. I’m mostly post hoc rationalizing why / how I didn’t viscerally like this. But there are good things, and I’m mostly pissed b/c I really loved the first 40 minutes and the “prepare to be mind-fucked!! (gene simmons tongue!!!)” beat switch was a big clattering Rube Goldberg machine full of dumb-ass twists and mini-twists and twists-within-twists all giving rise to a socially conscious Rob Zombie incest monster film. No amount of “this is an allegory for” whatever-high-minded-bullshit rescues it from what a weird mess of conflicting styles and images it is or how boilerplate its “politics” are. This is what was so amusing to me about NOPE, which is Jordan Peele utterly confounding his audience by loading up his film with all kinds of subtext and thematic material to chew on and then absolutely refusing to provide an obligatory white male piece of shit to hate or a David Gordon Green-cycle Laurie Strode character to turn from her laptop and face the screen to announce, “The people-eating space monster is the carceral state.”

  43. I’m curious what it is that you think it’s a heavy-handed allegory for. It’s obviously contemporary in its me-too related subplot and DON’T-BREATHE-esque depiction of Detroit, but the “high minded bullshit” and stuff you’re referring to seems to have flown over or out of my head, overwhelmed by the kickass horror movie in front of it.

  44. The incest monster woman is kinda a gimme. The mind swapping stuff in GET OUT is also probably not exactly hard science. She’s the sympathetic monster that was created by a dude’s fucked-upness. She’s like a metaphor, or something.

  45. I don’t think it’s high minded bullshit or anything, but there’s a couple of people I haven’t bothered recommending this to because they’d hate it on the bullshit ground that it’s got an ‘agenda’. Even though it’s otherwise exactly the sort of thing they’d love.
    What you call contemporary is ideological pandering/flag waving to some, and it’s pronounced enough here that people will inevitably charge at it.


    Even though Keith ends up being a stand-up dude, his masculine stubbornness ends getting him killed and Tess trapped – the movie would be a lot shorter if he had just believed her. A lot of the tension mined from the first part is about unthinking male privilege. The disbelieving, hostile-ish policemen are, again, a genre staple, but it also fits too well within the me-too narrative. Tess is mentioned to be in a toxic relationship.

    All the other men except for the poor homeless dude are fucking monstrous, rape is a plot element and the reason for the monster, and yeah, said monster ends up being sympathetic, a victim herself.

    The movie is good enough, grounds its themes within its plot enough, and TBH I’m in sync enough with its messaging that it’s a non-issue for me; But the movie is still conspicuously inserting itself on one side of an ideological discussion. It’s not just commenting on contemporary issues, it has a take on them. And that’s all right! I like it when movies have a point of view. Unfortunately given the culture war we’re all enmeshed on to some degree or another, just having an opinion makes it a target – I see how people on both sides would seize on this as ammo for their arguments. And if you don’t like the movie as much, it’s easier to focus on it.

    (@Skani, I’m not talking about you! Not sure I take your point about demonizing inbreeding as a plot element, but obviously I’d be against demonizing inbred people. I don’t think it’s a pressing social issue, but time will probably prove me wrong as it tends to do.)

    It’s probably pretty universal these days to have friends we used to be very close to that now see toxic political grandstanding in harmless material, or worse. I have friends that were nominally feminist but these days are dead set against even talking about feminism; any public discussion is virtue signalling, and any movie having anything to say means it has an agenda. Sorry, that got depressing quickly.

    Any of you folks see Barbarian is (almost! if you squint a lot) an anagram of AirBnB? The director mentioned it on an interview (it’s unintentional) and it made me laugh.

  46. Vern, I don’t actually think it is an allegory per se, though you could argue that the incest mutant woman is a “return of the repressed” -type metaphor for the fruits of predatory male sexual behavior. I just think the film is a tonal and narrative cluster fuck of trying to signify that it cares about the issues it is supposed to (me too gender politics, cops as bad, white flight/gentrification) while also trying to give us a Richard Brake Rob Zombie rape mutant schlock. I don’t think those impulses mix wellLess combatively, the pivot to Justin Long’s character just doesn’t work for me — one person’s “bonkers” is another person’s “dumb, incoherent shit.”

    But I also think this is just a long-standing difference in how we approach films. You’ve always been able to find and enjoy the cool features in the nooks and crannies of weird and not conventionally “good” films (viz., Seagalogy), whereas it’s very important that the whole work for me. Note that I’m debating whether the “whole” worked for you in this particular case (that’s your call), but for me, this film is a lot of cool individual elements coming together in a slap-dash stew of narrative and tonal incoherence, bad/weird pacing choices and politics that are varyingly lazy/too easy and just confused.

  47. I am not singling out anyone when I say this, more just making observations of the general tenor of The Conversation, but this argument just makes me feel contempt for both sides. One the one hand, it is undeniable that past generations of filmmakers were much more effective at smuggling social messages into genre movies without beating you over the head with it and distracting from the story. On the other hand, I can’t believe there are people out there willing to brag about being so fucking dense that they think there was ever a time when genre movies were apolitical. Curt Siodmak wrote THE WOLF MAN as a metaphor for Nazism, for Christ’s sake! Like, if you can watch DAWN OF THE DEAD and not think there’s any politics at all going on in there, you are a fucking ignoramus and should legally be banned from sharing your opinions on movies in public.

  48. *not debating

    Incidentally, it’s a similar case with HALLOWEEN ENDS. Sure, there are individual elements of that film that are cool (or can be made to sound cool on paper or can be made to sound perfectly reasonable in comparison to every available point of comparison in the full HALLOWEEN filmography), but as a whole and as the final chapter in a trilogy cash cow that does owe its fans something more than a middle finger, I think it’s a problem. In the same way with BARBARIAN, there are individual elements that are great, but there are some that are less so, and even the great ones don’t all work together. Like when I was sick that time and my daughter made me “feel better stew,” consisting of saltines and peas in ginger ale — all perfectly fine elements, but that doesn’t men they get more awesome when you put them together and stir.

    That said, there are surely films where some of the cool individual elements are enough to put me over the top, but back to BARBARIAN, this film lost me almost immediately into the Justin Long shit, and I tried to let it win me back, but it just didn’t. Too all over the place, too much trying to mix prurient schlock with social consciousness, too many different movies that a person is trying to shoehorn into a single movie.

  49. Also, to be clear, I like movies that are political. Romero’s work is very political, and I think it’s great. CANDYMAN o.g. was political. GET OUT was five years ago and started the current cycle of socially conscious horror, and although it was more on the nose than any of those earlier films, it also was a lot of fun and laser-focused in its social commentary and the unfolding of its narrative (vs. all over the place and perfunctorily trying to check a bunch of issue boxes five years after they’ve been at the forefront of American cultural and political discourse). BARBARIAN feels forced, lazy, and insincere in its mix of generic social justice tropes and rapey Rob Zombie grindhouse. Makes me queasy.

  50. @Skani
    I don’t exactly get what was so incoherent about Justin Long and Richard Brake for you. You were thinking you were watching a classier picture with Campbell and Skarsgard and those guys ruined it for you?

  51. Daniel, I don’t want to say I explained it well above (I know I type word salad and refuse to edit it), but I did endeavor to explain it.

    The atmosphere and tone completely changes when it pivots from to Long. The look, feel, location, etc. Justin Long cruising down the California coast in his sports car talking to his agent on his cell phone is a definite mood/tone/everything shift. I was enjoying the mood/tone/plot of the first 40 minutes, and then it was like the director-writer just said, “This is boring, let’s watch TUSK.” Again, I know that this was on purpose, but that doesn’t mean it works for me. The switch to Justin Long alone is a major shift, because he is so recognizable and has a particular kind of energy (that was what I meant with my earlier reference to if it had been Ice Cube or Amy Schumer). But they didn’t do just that. It couldn’t have been more jarring. And it just fucked up the pacing and momentum.

    Richard Brake. I mean, at least they didn’t cast Sheri-Moon Zombie as the lady at the grocery store or one of Brake’s victims, but shit. Even up to the last Saarsgard scene, we can go a lot of places with this plot, but we decide to land on Richard Brake’s rape dungeon. Here again, the mere choice of casting Brake in this role is a strong Zombie subtextual cue. The dude is marked. And it’s not just a little winky dog whistle-y casting nod. The labels on the videotapes, the trip to the grocery store to buy all this homebirth shit, and then the fact that he’s not just a skeezy looking creep (like he was in BATMAN BEGINS), we’re now well into his Zombie and Zombie-esque ouevre, and we bring him in as the villain. And it’s not on some taseteful haunting subtle-but-implied offscreen shit. We see him buying homebirth gear, we see hois dirty-ass grimy rape dungeon, we see his videos with titles like “Fucking red-head whore who won’t stop bawling” (ish). And this is third film that follows up the tense metoo/AirBNB mood piece (the good film buried in here) and the Justin Long is Hollywood rape-bro (the fucking one-note lazy film where we can congratulate ourselves about how we’re definitely not this piece of shit, we’re the Saarsgard character, yay, us).

  52. Also, in defense of my laundry list of all over the place “arguments,” there is a surplus of things to hate about this film (this is why the very first words i say about it above are “don’t know where to start”).

    The main thing tying them altogether is that I simply do not accept that you-the-filmmaker get to be a #believewomen feminist ally and the executive producer of “Rob Zombie Presents Richard Brake’s Snuff Film Rape Dungeon Incest Monster Breeding Kennel The Movie” IN THE SAME FILM. If you-the-viewer want to like both movies as separate movies and for different reasons, be my guest, but they don’t work together in one film that wants to pretend to have a coherent and credible point of view.

    Here is my Freudian analysis of this film. The writer-director of fucking MISS MARCH wants us to know that he’s definitely not a Justin Long type (anymore). He’s done the work, you guys. “James Franco Presents Rob Zombie Presents Zach Cregger’s I Wrote and Directed Miss March but am Not the Justin Long Character Thank You Very Much, I’m the Peter Saarsgard Character Or At Least I’m Trying to Be, And I’m Definitely Not the Richard Brake Character That’s for Sure Even Though Rob Zombie Is So Fucking Killer Dude: The Movie.”

  53. Ok, so I guess you were thinking you were watching a classier picture and those guys ruined it for you :)

    I agree with you that Long and Brake have certain connotations, and that they were cast because of those connotations, and that that was the writer-director’s screenwriting game. But I also think that dreadguacamole was right when he wrote:

    “Even though Keith ends up being a stand-up dude, his masculine stubbornness ends getting him killed and Tess trapped – the movie would be a lot shorter if he had just believed her”

    There’s literally a scene were Campbell’s character tells Skarsgard why his nice guy cluelessness is a problem and then he dies because of it. He’s not an aspirational character, he’s a lower level boss in a feminist/all men are terrible horror movie. Long and Brake are bosses number 2 and 3. I mean, sure, it’s on the nose, but I think it’s pretty well thought out and coherent.

  54. Hi daniel. Yeah, I mean, I’ve already entered the “overplaying my hand out of stubborn need to overkill my point along multiple fronts.” So, how far should I press it from here, just for sport? At the end of the day, I found the film off-putting before we even got to Brake, but by the time it did get there, I was like, “Fine, Zach Cregger, fuck you, let’s go, motherfucker” and then I went ahead and broke my beer bottle over the Outlaw Vern bar and fell off my stool into this rant. But I do 82% believe my analysis of Cregger, and I 98.4% believe that this film and Cregger know as much abou feminism as a frat bro taking Women’s Studies 101 to see if he can get laid.

    I can’t get to where Saaaaarsgaaaard is even on the same planet as these other guys, though that’s a good and valid point about the progression up the hierarchy of bro-dom. Ultimately, though, I think Sarsgard is decidedly in the good guy column, even if he’s a clueless, trying too hard good guy. Meta-irony is that Cregger himself is a trying too hard guy who hopes he’s just Sarsgard but unconsciously fears he’s Long (or maybe it’s not unconscious, I’ve never done a kegstand with him).

    This film is a yuck for me. I realize films play on all sorts of levels and hit people in different spots, and I in no way think that liking the film is some immoral act, I just dislike it on multiple levels and really don’t think Mr. Ms. March has either the perspective or the credibility to tell a metoo story. On the other hand, if he had cast Jason Biggs as the Justin Long character it might’ve crossed over into awesome.

  55. That seems like alot of behind the scenes fan fiction to me. I don’t agree with your assumptions about the type of movie he made or that it would be incompatible if that were what he was trying to do. (Have you seen REVENGE?)

  56. I would just call it conjecture.

    To recap, I had an immediate negative reaction to
    1. The narrative, tonal, and pacing choices, which some people are celebrating, but which for me resulted in a jarring, choppy, momentum-killing, tonally all over the place and ultimately deeply unsatisfying watching experience.

    2. What I found to be a rote, pandering, bingo-list approach to incorporating various issues of the day along with what I considered a clumsy and ham-fisted way of trying to say something “thoughtful” about post-metoo sexual dynamics (everything about the Justin Long character)

    3. The in-my-opinion tasteless juxtaposition of the high-mindedness of #2 with (a) a clearly Rob Zombie-inflected, Richard Brake-centric grimy-sexual-sadism motif/sub-plot and (b) a mutant incest monster (along with a previously un-mentioned-by-me obsession with nipples of all types and giant flapping monster tits)

    4. Those were my immediate reactions to the film as and immediately after I watched it. Then I had to look up, “who the fuck is this guy Zach Cregger who made this thing?,” and I found MISS MARCH, and I’m like, you’ve gotta be kidding me?! This is the guy with the nerve to make the metoo mutant incest Richard Brake sex dungeon rubber/monster nipple orgy that is this film?

    For context, here are some not-made-up Rotten Tomatoes for MISS MARCH:

    “A whiff of what I can only describe as pure evil billows off the screen while this comedy is playing: a buddy grossout picture with zero laughs and a persistent, chilling misogyny.”

    “An almost perfect atrocity. It is a towering K2 of bobbins… the most mangy, noxious, charmless, sexist, racist, unfunny, infantile, stomach-turning, grotesque, clueless, inept and stupid film of the year.”

    Whether my conjectures as to Cregger’s outlook have any truth to them is an open question — I am only speculating. If someone has the interview where Cregger reflects on how much he’s changed since that film and how it informed and motivated this new film, I’d be interested to read it to inform my fan fiction. But even that revelation wouldn’t undercut the anything in my 1-4, since 4 is a fact and since I came to 1-3 before I knew anything about this guy.

    I have not seen REVENGE (which, like GET OUT, came out 5 years ago when these issues and takes were still fresh).

  57. As for REVENGE, I was turned off by the rape thing. I am not a fan of the rape-exploitation stuff, whatever spin is put on it. Never watched LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, watched but hated and was deeply queasy about DEVIL’S REJECTS. Probably the closest I could come to tolerating that is the original DEATH WISH, which I still was deeply uncomfortable with, but I thought played it all straight, so, I could respect that there was an actual purpose to it as a truly horrific inciting incident. I couldn’t even bring myself to watch NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, which I wanted to watch for the Gyll, but then I heard there was a rape-murder thing, and I was out. I don’t like sexual sadism themes, and I especially don’t like sexual sadism that pretends it’s socially conscious and tries to have it both ways. I get that sexual assault happens a lot and is very bad, but it’s not something I like to see depicted onscreen in general and unless it clearly serves a purpose and is handled with a certain level of care and the rest of the film really demonstrates how it was necessary to the plot. Hell, I don’t usually like sadism themes. WOLF CREEK was too much for me. HOSTEL was an exception, becuase it had a bit more of heightened reality schlock, and all the victims were bros, so, it wasn’t obviously dabbling in this weird, muddled misogyny-feminism cocktail.

  58. I haven’t seen MISS MARCH and have only heard of it because he mentions in every interview what a humiliation and horrible experience it was. I don’t have enough information to psychoanalyze him, I just don’t agree with your description of what BARBARIAN is doing. Sure, it has a point of view about things it depicts. Like, yes, it gives an accurate depiction of how useless cops can be and you think “oh shit, I’ve never seen a movie get it quite that right” but it doesn’t feel like a movie about police.

    But obviously if it took you on a horror ride that you enjoyed you wouldn’t be focusing on that. So what’s more relevant is that many of the reasons BARBARIAN is exciting to people are the exact things you hate about it. If you didn’t get a thrill out of the moment you’re thrown into a different type of movie and have to settle in to find out how this is going to connect then of course you’re not going to like it. That’s fine.

  59. Thank you, I appreciate the good faith. And I don’t bregudge someone’s enjoyment of this. I’m clearly in the minority here!

    I have not read interviews with the guy (I only have so much time for my fan fiction research and most of it is devoted to commenting here), but if this film truly is his attempt at personal growth and self-reflection, god bless him, we’re all works in progress, etc. I am skeptical though. As an example, take Brad Pitt producing the “Harvey Weinstein is a piece of shit” film (super controversial take in 2022: Harvey Weinstein was bad). Where were all Brad Pitt’s Harvey Weinstein is a piece of shit takes in the mid-2000s, when he knew about this stuff going on? In the same way, if people were still doing AMERICAN PIE stuff in 2020, and if MISS MARCH had been a hit, I think this guy would be happily promoting MISS MARCH 7: MISS SEPTEMBER: THE QUICKENING. There is zero political courage in being quiet when it’s safe to do that and then speaking up once it’s safe do that. It’s the opposite of courage.

    Would or have I done better than these guys? I really can’t say, but I would hope that if I had been quiet about or profitted off of this stuff back when it was the safe or popular thing, I would not so nakedly switch to team virtue when that is the safe and popular thing. Like, just do some unrelated thing.

  60. I think a movie can do a metoo thing and also have a rape dungeon…it’s not as if the movie’s advocating for it.

  61. The one thing I did not quite like is when they went to Long…mainly because it did kill the momentum dead. And it was the hamhanded “bro it wasn’t rape” thing that every movie has to do to make a point because nothing can just be scary after Get Out, it must Say Something. Then it got weird because that shit KEPT GOING. Then I was getting intrigued again, like why is this happening, then I got on the vibe that going from a thriller to a crazy underground mutant was not the only hard turn this movie was going to be making…then I was on the wavelength and really enjoyed it. I do think Long could have been intorduced in a better way, but eh, I ended up having a great time with this movie, so much better than it looked.

  62. So, continuing with theme of break-out financially successful horror films of the last couple of months: I also watched SMILE. I don’t think I can tell you which of these two was better. SMILE is definitely the more conventional film. It is gloomy but handsome and has good production values. None of the performances is bad, but they are not super engaging or memorable (Kal Penn is iffy). There are a few cool conceptual (Freddy-esque, maybe) gore effect shots that I liked, and I liked the ending okay. But it’s too long, and the story and mythology is exactly as thin as “evil trauma demon makes you see creepy jump scare smiles until you make a creepy jump scare smile and kill yourself.” I just kept thinking, THE GRUDGE or THE RING, but smile jump scares. And the creepy smiles are pretty good, and that is a somewhat original spooky premise, but it just can’t sustain this fairly long film and its bland characters who are not particularly likeable or involving. I can see where it would be fun in a crowded theatre or if you’ve never seen any of those j-horror “outrun the death curse and possibly go insane along the way” films.

    So, kind of a shrug over here. Not as self-conciously offbeat as BARBARIAN, so, not as alienating for me personally, but also not as memorable. I think I’ll give the split decision to SMILE, which does have enough interesting moments to merit a watch for someone who thinks they’d like a creepy smiles jump scares movie.

  63. SMILE is on my list of movies to check out.

    Since we’re doing recommendations, I watched NO EXIT over the weekend, and it’s a pretty dope thriller (maybe you can say it’s horror-adjacent), crime/noir kinda a thing. Seems to me like it’s flying under the radar for most people, but I would say it’s the best “people trapped in a snowy cabin” movie since THE HATEFUL 8. It’s directed by Damien Power, an Australian guy who did KILLING GROUND before, and in my opinion that film was one of the best Australian exploitation movies that came out of that post-WOLF CREEK/NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD slew.

    Don’t wanna talk too much about what happens in NO EXIT, because similarly to BARBARIAN it’s pretty twisty, and it’s best to watch it without any knowledge of what’s going on.

  64. Loved NO EXIT, really liked BARBARIAN, SMILE was a piece of shit

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