Barbarian, the scariest movie you’ve never seen!

Rachel O, Author

So I was supposed to watch Barbarian when it first came out, but me and my boyfriend were not allowed in the theater. Apparently, this movie was so gory and awful that two people one year under the age limit were not allowed to see it. Finally, on our two-month anniversary, I rented Barbarian. Boy am I glad I didn’t watch this movie alone. So let’s jump into this absolutely insane and terrifying movie.

The movie starts with our main character, Tess Marshal, who is staying at an Airbnb. When she goes to move into her rented home, someone is already staying there. After some very awkward interactions, they end up becoming friends and opening up to each other over a bottle of wine. The next day however gets a lot more chaotic.

Tess ends up exploring the basement of the house but ends up accidentally shutting herself in. Once she’s in the basement, she discovers a trap door leading to an unlit hallway. Even though we were screaming at the screen for Tess not to go in, she still went in anyways! A cliche yet effective horror movie trope. She ends up finding a room at the end of the hall that contains a bucket, a camera, and a blood-stained bed. Pretty spooky. She runs out of the hallway desperately trying to scream for help. Luckily her roommate sees her and pulls her out of the window in the basement. When Tess explains what she saw, her roommate doesn’t seem to believe her. He ends up going down to the basement, asking Tess to stay upstairs until he comes back to make sure he doesn’t get locked inside as well. Tess calls for him but he seemingly has gone silent. Tess makes her way down to the basement, this time hearing his cries for help. She goes through the secret passage, but can’t seem to find him. It is then that she realizes there’s another passage in the basement, one with stone stairs and very little light. She makes her way down the stairs, and as she does her roommate’s screams permeate throughout the room. Once she reaches the bottom, there are cages and bowls across the space. Tess then sees her roommate and tries to help him escape, although he starts to act weird. Tess continuously screams at him until he reveals there is something or someone else in the basement. Right after he says it, the creature appears behind him and bashes his head into a rock. 

After this happens we then cut to a completely different character named AJ Gilbride. He’s a star in a tv show and were are introduced to him as he is driving in his red Cadillac and listening to music. As he’s enjoying his scenic ride, he gets a call from the show’s producers explaining that his co-star accused him of assault and that they will drop his contract. AJ claims he never did anything to the woman, a statement that is proven false maybe ten minutes later when he gets drunk in a bar and admitted he had to coerce her into their altercation heavily. So yeah AJ kinda sucks and it’s obvious from the second you meet him. But what does this guy have to do with the story? Why did we just cut away from the main plot that just began developing? Well, I’ll tell you why. AJ is fully blacklisted from Hollywood, and in a desperate effort to hide away while the media storm surges, he ends up renting the same AirBandB that Tess rented. When he goes into the house, he sees the unpacked suitcases, Teases car outside, and the completely unlocked door. He immediately realizes that something is wrong. It is only once he goes down to the basement that he realizes the house is much bigger than he thought. He then decides to measure out the space, seeing if he could buy the house and rent it out for more money because of all the extra rooms. As he makes his way past all the red flags, such as the human cages covered with blood, or the random screams in the darkness of the basement, he simply continues walking as if nothing is wrong. It is at this point that Tess finds AJ and tells him he needs to leave immediately. He questions her, asking her what is going on when the creature appears from above grabbing AJ. Tess then makes a run for it, successfully finding her way out of the basement. Still, Tess is such a caring person she feels as if she can’t leave AJ to die. Even though a homeless man in the area tells her not to go back into the house, she simply can’t leave another human in a dangerous place. As Tess questions what to do, AJ escapes from the creature and ends up finding another room with a sickly old man in it. At first, AJ believes the man is another victim of the creature and assures him that the police will investigate. Although, it is not what it seems. As AJ explores more of the room, he discovers tapes of cruel and harsh acts done by the old man. All of them were filmed in the room with the bucket and the bloodstained bed. It’s revealed that the man used to abduct and keep them in the house’s basement. The creature in the story is actually the result of years of generational incest. When AJ finishes one of the man’s tapes, he berates him for his actions, but the man quickly ends his life, causing the creature to rush into the room and catch AJ again. Tess decides to drive to the nearest gas station and calls 911. The police fully discredit her story and ask her if she is abusing drugs. She decides she needs to go back to the house because now she is the only person who can save AJ. As she makes her way back to the house, the creature is just outside of the place. When it lunges at her, Tess hits it with her car and then runs back into the house to retrieve AJ. When she finds him, he accidentally shoots her with a gun he took from the old man. The two escape the house, but when they do, the creature is gone and is no longer crushed between the house and Tess’s car. The homeless man who had helped Tess earlier bring the two into a greenhouse he lives at. Andre explains to them that even though the creature comes out at night, she has never come over to where he lives. Just before he finishes telling them they are safe, the creature immediately murders the homeless man. The creature then chases AJ and Tess up a water tower, and both think they might not make it. Aj pushes Tess off the tower in an attempt to save himself, and it seemingly works when the creature jumps off the water tower to grab Tess and shields her from the fall. AJ tries to rationalize his actions to Tess, but as he does the creature wakes up and kills him. The movie ends when Tess shoots the creature, although they had started to share an interesting bond that kind was more like Stockholm syndrome. Tess walks away from the scene, covered in blood as the sun rises.

The movie has a lot to say, but I think the most important point is about who the true Barbarian of the story is. Although we are made to believe it is the creature, it ends up being all the men who betray and hurt women. The main reveal in the movie is that the real Barbarian isn’t the scary monster, it is the man who abused women in the house for so long. The monster is much less terrifying when you realize the only reason it exists is from the actions of the old man. I think this movie is incredible, but definitely not suited for younger audiences or the faint of heart.