Equal parts beguiling and horrific, Barbarian is best experienced without spoilers from the fans and critics who are raving about this film. The basic premise is that a woman named Tess (Georgina Campbell) arrives a day early in Detroit for a big job interview. Upon arriving at her Air B&B, she finds that it’s in a very sketchy neighborhood. To further complicate matters, the house is already inhabited by a stranger named Keith (Bill Skarsgard). Keith claims to have booked it himself and invites Tess inside because of the bad reputation of the neighborhood… foreshadowing at its finest.

After investigating other housing options, Tess reluctantly decides to stay overnight with Keith and the pair seem to hit it off, despite the odd circumstances. It’s at this moment that the film begins to take flight, and boy does it soar.

Writer/director Zach Cregger (a standout of the sketch comedy troupe The Whitest Kids You Know) willfully plays with his captive audience while executing his vision of what a low budget horror film can accomplish. Cregger teases taking the film into well-known horror cliché territory, but quickly flips audience expectations with inventive choices.

Cregger is more than adept at delivering clever thrills and scares while maintaining a consistent electricity in every frame of this film. Barbarian is an entertaining, nerve-wracking ride that should have strong legs at the box office. Fronting most of the film’s press is actor Justin Long, who appears late in the film as one of Hollywood’s “fallen” AKA “cancelled” talents returning to his Detroit home.

Cregger weaves in a commentary on many social topics within his horror spectacle, proving that he is more than capable of crafting complex narratives amid his clever scare choices with a razor thin budget. Having shot in Bulgaria, Cregger somehow captured a dark, grim version of Detroit. It’s a distinct pleasure to highlight a rising talent like Cregger, and one wonders what he could accomplish with a Jordan-Peele-sized budget in the near future.

About The Author

Founder, Awards Editor

Byron is the Awards Editor and Founder of Awards Focus, in addition to being a National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award winning journalist for his work at The Hollywood Reporter.

Working as a journalist and moderator, Byron hosts Emmy and Oscar panels for the major studios, featuring their Below The Line and Above The Line nominees (in partnership with their respective guilds).

Moderating highlights include Ingle Dodd's Behind the Slate Screening Series for Emmy and Oscar nominees, The ArcLight's Hitting the High Note Oscar series, The Hollywood Music and Media Academy FYC Series, and Emmy & Oscar panels for Society of Lyricists and Composers.

Byron's panels range from FX's Fargo to Netflix's The Crown, The Queen's Gambit, & Bridgerton; HBO Max's The Flight Attendant, Hacks, Succession, Insecure, Lovecraft Country & The White Lotus; and the Apple TV + hit series Ted Lasso.

In February of 2020, Byron hosted and organized the Aiding Australia Initiative; launched to assist in the restoration and rehabilitation of Australia's wildlife (an estimated 3 billion animals killed or maimed and a landmass the size of Syria decimated).

Participating talent for Aiding Australia includes Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Jeremy Renner, Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey, Josh Brolin, Bryan Cranston, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, JK Simmons, Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Danny Elfman, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Tim Allen, Colin Hay, Drew Struzan, and Michael Rosenbaum.

Byron is also a patent holding inventor, screenwriter, and songwriter (X-Men Apocalypse) in addition to being a proud member of The Society of Lyricists & Composers and BMI.

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