Barbarian is a difficult film to write a review for because on the one hand, I have SO much I want to say. On the other, I want to say absolutely nothing to preserve the experience of going into this movie with as little knowledge as possible. I went into this film having seen no trailers or advertisements of any kind--with no other impressions aside from some good word of mouth and a brief synopsis. If you are a lover of the horror genre like I am, do yourself a favor and see this movie and form your own opinion before any and all hype. As soon as people see it there are bound to be strong opinions and the best way to experience this movie is with none of that.
With all that said, my recommendation to any readers of this review is to stop here at this paragraph and know that I did immensely enjoy this film and do suggest you see it as soon as possible. But since I do have a review to write, I'll be as vague as I can though it's impossible for me not to reveal a little in attempting to discuss the merits this film has to offer.
The premise here is simple, and I won't go into plot specifics other than what I myself had heard before I saw the film--Barbarian follows a woman named Tess (Georgina Campbell) who discovers the Airbnb she planned to stay in has been double booked. The fear of something going dreadfully wrong at an Airbnb seems to be a common one nowadays as we've had quite a few of these films now (ie The Rental, Superhost) but Barbarian finally does the idea justice because unlike previous attempts, Barbarian never aims to be purely conventional.
For someone well acquainted with horror tropes, you have a certain idea of what to expect when watching one--and Barbarian brilliantly turns all those expectations on their head. A big reason this film works is because of its pitch-perfect casting. This isn't some big ensemble piece, rather it relies on three roles that if cast any other way may not have worked as perfectly as the film did. Georgina Campbell makes for a perfect modern horror lead, cautious and no-nonsense...but trusting enough to be vulnerable. Bill Skarsgård who plays the other renter of the Airbnb, is crucial here and pretty much the only actor I can think of who could make this part what it needed to be. Then there's Justin Long, who I honestly don't even what to say about him without giving anything away, but I will say this might be some of his best work to date and I only wanted more screen time with him.
In fact "wanting more" was really my only complaint with the film. Wanting a little more setup between some characters and wanting a tiny bit more backstory of others. I'm definitely hoping there's a Directors' cut in store for us someday from writer/director Zach Creggor who, it must be said did some excellent work here. So while I may have a few nitpicks here and there, it doesn't take away from how solid Barbarian is as a whole. It's one heck of a fun ride and easily the best horror film of the year. I have so much more to say, but I have a feeling I'll be talking about this one for a while, so I'll save it for later after some more people can get in on the fun.