The cinema, unless it is handcuffed by the often uncompromising bridles of a studio, is usually a means of artistic expression synonymous with creative freedom. Of course, there are no written rules that must be strictly followed, but if there are a genre that makes it easy for authors to let their hair down and indulge in the craziest experiments on a formal and plot level, that is terror.
However, even with the facilities inherent in this type of production, surprising the most seasoned audience in the field is usually a tremendously complicated task. More than a century after the birth of cinematic horror, it seems that there is no longer room to innovate the codes, explored and twisted ad nauseamwhich underlie these stories.
But this, when the stars and talent align, does not have to be an impediment to stimulate as it deserves a respectable cured of horror, and the latest example of this is ‘Barbarian’; a hilarious and unnerving proposal that replicates and reconstructs all-too-familiar resources with enough intelligence to shape one of the great horror films that will go through our suffering retinas this 2022.
Better well known…
Although the first bars of ‘Barbarian’ travel through apparently familiar terrain, making contact with Zach Cregger’s feature film conveys the feeling of being in front of something special. The magnificent dynamic between Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgård —both fantastic—, the writing of their dialogues and characters, the extremely refined staging, Zach Kuperstein’s photography… everything comes together to progressively promote a premise, a priori, as simple as hackneyed.
But what could well have turned into eternal déjà-vu with an Airbnb stay that goes off the rails begins to turn into a nightmare that finds its greatest ally in unpredictability. As if it were a reflection of the convoluted scenario in which it is set, the film begins to open unexpected doors and chain impossible twists -which are not innovative, holding you firmly even before the end of its first act so as not to let go until the final credits roll. screen.
Thus, ‘Barbarian’ does not stop evolving at any time thanks to a precise script calculated to the millimeter —with its necessary licenses that do not endanger the suspension of disbelief— that turns the viewer’s expectations upside down —again, without innovating— by taking almost literally the maxim that points the mid point of a script as a transformative element of the story and by drenching the footage with a tinge of jet black humor.
Perhaps, between stand-up narrative stunts and potentially disaster-prone structural romps, what makes this terrifying entertainment so sympathetic is the way in which she manages her aspirations when it comes to distancing herself from her recent counterparts without any pretense or pedantry. ‘Barbarian’ is very aware of his true nature and, as such, he manages to combine intelligence and risk without giving up the purest, most carefree and wild fun.
I have to confess that it took a long time, but a long time without enjoying or having such a good time with a horror movie. Its protagonists —and antagonists—, its remarkable technical and formal invoice and its impeccable construction and administration of tension and atmosphere are undeniable virtues, but they are overshadowed by his ability to play with you for 110 minutes essential for anyone who wants to have a very good time while being surprised while traveling through previously navigated waters.