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Barbarian (2022)

'Barbarian' is a film that came out with a lot of hype surrounding it, with many horror fans going as far as calling it the best horror of the year. Although all of this chatter heightened my expectations, thankfully my plot knowledge was very limited. If like me you know nothing about this film, I strongly recommend you go into it with that mindset as it is certainly the best way to experience this film, for better or worse. The casting is flawless, with modern day horror veterans such as Bill Skarsgård, Richard Brake and Justin Long taking center stage. Considering how 'Barbarian' plays out, it would be only fitting that Long would feature heavily in such an off the wall movie as this. One of the more surprising castings is that of fairly unknown Georgina Campbell as lead Tess. I found Campbell to be exceptional this role and is certainly the standout performer of the entire production. Skarsgård however, is massively underutilised and although it serves for a big shock plot element I personally just felt like it was a missed opportunity limiting his screen time. This very much feels like a film of two halves, with the first 50 minutes concentrating on shear terror and suspension. This is only amplified by the mystery and curiosity of the unknown. Having very limited knowledge of the films plot is the best way to experience this film to get the desired effect from the writing. If ever there was a marketing campaign that studios need to pay attention to, its 'Barbarian'. With the trailer releasing very limited information on its plot helped create one of the most suprising plot developments in recent years. The change of direction for the second half is something that caught a lot of people off guard and caused this film to receive rave reviews for its unique story development. For me this different take didn't land. I certainly encourage switching up the formular with movie making and trying new things, unfortunately though that gamble doesn't always pay off. For me, this is one of those times, the change of pace was so jarring I struggled to find my place with it from that point on. Once we are introduced to the character of AJ played by Long, things start to feel much lighter in tone and have more of a black comedy element to them than the previous darker more intense first 50 minutes. Personally, I prefer the first half as opposed to the second. Even though it was a wild and unexpected ride, I felt the tonally shift unbalanced and didn't quite work. I struggled to find my place with it once things changed and I think this is in part due to how impressive I found the story development so early on. 'Barbarian' holds no rewatchability factor for me, I know where the plot ultimately ends I'm not a fan of how it gets there. It's certainly a film of two halves and my score will reflect that. I can see how these two halves would work well individually, yet together it's a jarring juxtaposition that collectively feels unnatural. In comparison the first half was outstanding which only amplified my disappointment with the second half. Go in blind and what didn't work for me could always work for you, as it appears to for so many other fans within the horror community.



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