Trust, betrayal, stereotypes and other non-obvious meanings of the film “Barbarian”
Country: USA, Bulgaria
Genre: horror, thriller
Year of production: 2022
Director: Zach Cregger
Actors: Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgard, Justin Long
Slogan: “Come for a night.” Stay forever”
Over time, the audience’s fears change – what scared them in childhood only causes laughter in adulthood. Realizing this, filmmakers from time to time try to present us with something like this, with unusual content. This is exactly what Zach Cregger’s tape is like. The film boldly juggles genres, changes the mood and atmosphere: it either immerses us in dark horror, or slides into an absurd comedy.
The message of the film “Barbarian” is that you need to take responsibility for every action you take. In addition, other serious topics are discussed here.
What is the movie about
Brief description of the film “Barbarian”. One dark, rainy night, young Tess stops her car near her rented house. She will have to spend one night here – in the morning she will go for an interview. However, an unpleasant surprise awaits her: a young man already lives in the house.
The role of Tess was played by Georgina Campbell. Still from the film.
Tess guesses that some kind of mistake has occurred, but she doesn’t really like the idea of going out into the night to look for another place to live. The guy invites her to go in and try to contact the agents who rented her the house.
Tess goes inside, but something in the young man’s behavior still worries her: he is too friendly, and she is sure that there is definitely some sinister hidden meaning in this. She asks the guy to show her the confirmation of the reservation of this house and he agrees.
However, the girl decides to leave and still look for another home. To this, the young man says that the area in which the house is located is unsafe, especially at night. He invites her to stay, saying that he will give her space in the bedroom.
The girl basically has nowhere to go, and she agrees to his proposal. Seeing how nervous Tess is, the guy (his name is Keith) invites her to drink wine and, to dispel any doubts she has, opens the bottle in front of her. Little by little Tess relaxes and, after sitting with her new acquaintance for a while, goes to bed. At night, the girl wakes up from strange sounds and sees the door opening to her room. Keith is sleeping peacefully on the couch at this time.
The next morning, Tess leaves the house and realizes that the area is really so-so: the houses and roads are not in the best condition, and the contingent is quite frightening. In particular, a tramp suddenly follows the girl with wild screams, and she barely has time to run into the house. He continues to shout that the house is dangerous and that she can’t stay here, but Tess is sure that the words of the tramp (probably a drug addict!) make no sense.
Bill Skarsgard as Keith. Still from the film.
By chance, the girl ends up in the basement, the door of which suddenly slams shut, and she finds herself trapped. Keith is not at home, Tess left the phone in the house. To pass the time, she starts looking around and soon discovers a creepy secret room. In the corner there is a bed with a dirty mattress, and the walls are stained with blood. There is a camera next to the bed… The frightened girl has only one interpretation: here someone was held captive and terrible things were done to him.
There is no point in staying in a scary house any longer. But how to get out of the basement? Luckily, Keith returns at that moment and frees her. After listening to Tess, he goes down to the basement to inspect it personally. He does not return for a long time, and the worried Tess goes down after him and discovers another door that leads along an eerie dark corridor somewhere down.
As a result, she finds herself in a very scary cave, in which there are no less creepy empty cells. Confident that she was in the lair of a maniac who most likely kept people here, Tess nevertheless moves forward in search of Keith. Soon he himself comes out to her. Seriously scared, he asks her not to make any noise because they are not alone here. The girl nevertheless begins to become hysterical. Suddenly, a humanoid creature runs out of the darkness and kills Keith…
Further in the plot of the film, AJ, a Hollywood producer and actor, appears. Until the actress he worked with accused him of rape, everything was fine with him. But a sex scandal is a serious matter and AJ eventually realizes that his career is over. However, he is not going to give up and is suing his former colleague for libel.
Alas, AJ is broke. The only way to get money as quickly as possible is to sell an old Michigan house that no one has lived in for a long time and which he rents out through the Airbnb service.
Justin Long as A.J. Still from the film.
Having rented a house, he temporarily settles there, and a little later discovers a basement with several secret rooms. Neither the blood on the walls nor the cells bother him. Suddenly a monster attacks him, he starts to run and falls into a trap. There he meets Tess…
Then the flashback begins. It turns out that many years ago a lonely man named Frank lived in this house. One day he went to the supermarket and bought everything he needed to have a baby. And then he went in search of his future mother. Having found a suitable girl, he hid her in his basement… This is where the flashback ends, and we are again transported to the present.
A monster appears again – a distraught and dehumanized woman who sees in her captives… children that she needs to take care of. Taking advantage of the commotion caused by the poor mad woman and AJ, Tess escapes from the basement. Suddenly, the tramp who tried to warn her at the very beginning comes to her aid. The girl claims that AJ cannot be abandoned and something needs to be done. He, having fought off the monster, finds another door, behind which is a creepy old man – that same maniac…
It turns out that under his house he built a secret network of tunnels where he lured women. For many years, he raped and tortured not only them, but also all the children who were born later. This terrible cycle ultimately gave birth to Mother, a kind of mutant. She was born and raised in Frank’s tunnels and is likely his granddaughter. She spent many years searching for a child she could raise as her own. She found this “child” in Tess… Realizing that the police will soon arrive here, the old man pulls a pistol from under the pillow and shoots himself in the temple.
Tess, meanwhile, is trying to act. After stopping a police car, she tells them her story, but the law enforcement officers do not believe her.
Explanation of the ending of the picture. Towards the end, Tess sneaks back into the house and goes looking for AJ. They manage to get out of the house and get to the shelter of the tramp, who has already tried to help Tess twice. The man claims that they are in the safest place in the area: the monster from the basement never comes here. As soon as he uttered these words, the monster appeared and killed him. After this, it begins to chase Tess and AJ and drives them onto a water tower. Saving his life, he pushes the girl from the tower, and the monster flies after her.
Having descended, AJ sees a dead monster, but Tess is still alive – her fall was softened by her Mother… The meaning of the ending of the film “Barbarian” is quite simple and at the same time creepy. It turns out that the monster also survived. It attacks AJ, kills him, and tries to help Tess. But she kills her with a pistol shot and then leaves.
Considering what the girl experienced, her future fate is unenviable. She will probably be able to get help, but in the future she will have to live in constant fear – after all, faced with the consequences of Frank’s affairs, with AJ’s betrayal and the indifference of the police, it is difficult to think that you are safe…
The meaning of the film
In their analysis of the film, many viewers note that “The Barbarian” is one of those films that you should go to unprepared, because only in this case the pleasure from viewing will be maximum. The point is that the story here is presented segmentally: alternating riddles with solutions, the director gradually puts everything in its place.
The role of the tramp Andre was played by James Butler. Still from the film.
It all starts with the girl arriving at a rented house. She discovers that there is already a nice guy named Keith living there, who is friendly (too?) and welcoming (too much?). All his further actions and words gently hint that he is here for a reason and Tess should get out of here, and quickly. However, it soon turns out that Keith is fine, and the source of the threat is the house itself. Having made such a trick with the ears, the film immediately makes another one: the director’s focus is on exploring a serious topic. And this is not the notorious victimization (although we are talking about that here too), but trust.
Take Tess, for example. She reacts to Keith adequately in principle, but after a while she completely trusts AJ, who has a very dubious reputation. Next, in a flashback, we see Frank, whose creepy behavior for some reason does not raise any doubts among the supermarket worker. For her, this is an ordinary client, and she is just doing her job.
Having made the necessary acquisitions, the maniac tracks down the victim. Then, donning a plumber’s uniform, he enters her house, and so begins the terrible cycle that ultimately gives birth to the monstrous Mother.
Here, by the way, you can see an allusion to Frankenstein’s monster. At the end of the film, it turns out that the maniac is hiding from his creation, he is afraid of her. They are both hostages to each other, but nevertheless, Mother’s presence next to Frank is retribution for the atrocities he committed.
Returning to the theme of trust, we should note the mise-en-scène with the tramp, who ran screaming towards Tess, and then knocked on the door of the damned house for a long time. The frightened girl ran away from him and barricaded herself in the room – this is what anyone in her place would have done. However, the irony of the situation is that the tramp was trying to help. However, it is truly difficult to believe in the good intentions of an inhabitant of a bad neighborhood rushing towards you.
Richard Brake stars as Frank. Still from the film.
A little later, Tess herself finds herself in his place – she fails to convince the police that she is right: mistaking her for a crazy drug addict, they simply leave. Here the issue of trust deepens and sharpens at the same time – how can you trust the police who do not do their job?..
“The Barbarian” (by the way, who is this? The picture tells about a cycle of monstrous manipulations. But is Frank the only one to blame for them?) is not a story about a monster from the basement. To a greater extent, it is a satire on society, ridiculing, in particular, stereotypical thinking. To the director’s credit, it is worth noting that he does not lecture, but simply reflects and grins ironically. Thanks to this, the picture looks interesting, and in some places even funny.
However, this is not the only point of the film. Zach Cregger also explores the topic of security. And this is where it gets really creepy, because the director claims that a safe space simply does not exist. Basement monsters live only in films, but monsters that have a human appearance are found not only in dark, deserted places.
At any moment, a neighbor, a policeman, a plumber, an electrician or a postman can come to each of us at home. What’s on his mind – God knows…
Still from the film.
Here are several films similar in meaning and plot to the film “Barbarian”:
- “Don’t Breathe” (USA, Hungary, 2015). Teenagers break into the house of a blind man, hoping to get their hands on a large sum of money that he is rumored to have hidden somewhere. However, it soon becomes clear that the victim they got was a predatory one.
- “Fresh” (USA, 2022). Noah meets Steve. Already on the second date, the girl understands that he is not so simple…
- “X” (USA, Canada, 2022). A group of friends rents a house from an elderly couple. It soon becomes clear that the old men are not such God’s dandelions as they seemed at the time of their acquaintance.
- “Black Phone” (USA, 2021). Young Finn is captured by a maniac. The boy has no hope of salvation, but suddenly he starts receiving calls on his phone from previous victims of the monster.