While I’ve been writing a couple different lists of horror movies on various streaming services you might want to watch for Halloween here, I would be remiss if I did not recommend what is easily the wildest, weirdest horror movie I’ve seen this year, which has timed its release to coincide with Halloween today pretty well.
That would be Barbarian, which was buzzed-about when it was in theaters, but it has just hit HBO Max where you can watch with a subscription there. The film stars Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgard and Justin Long, and is easily the most unexpected horror entry I can remember seeing in the past few years, something that’s going to stay with me for a long while for a few different reasons.
I won’t get into spoilers here, only to say that nothing is really as it seems. The premise is that a young woman rents an AirBnB in a desolated suburb of Detroit, and when she arrives, she finds that a man is already staying there, claiming the place has been double booked.
The man is Bill Skarsgard, who has played the central clown in It and a demonic force in Castle Rock, so even though he acts nice, you think you can tell where this is going.
You cannot. You cannot tell where this is going, I promise you that.
It takes a lot to surprise and shock me in horror movies these days, but Barbarian sets up its twists and turns in ways you will never see coming, and by the end, you’ll realize you have watched an entirely different movie than the one you thought you were going to, and I expect certain portions of it to haunt your dreams. It’s not really a spooky jump scare movie, but it’s jarring, unsettling and memorable, and an easy recommendation for any horror fan. Perhaps less so for non-horror fans, as it might be a bit too much for more mainstream crowds, but hey, take some risks.
This feels like it will be a breakout vehicle from writer/director Zach Cregger, who has been around a while, but mostly doing shorts and TV, and never anything like this. I can’t wait to see what he does next, as in addition to his writing and directing here, it’s the casting that makes this film what it is. I’ve already mentioned Skarsgard, but Justin Long is perfect here in ways I can’t really even begin to describe, and some of his scenes are among my favorites in any movie I’ve seen this year.
So yes, the less you know the better, and I feel like I’ve said enough nothing here to get you start. So go watch, and let me know what you think.
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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.