Firing on all cylinders, Zack Cregger’s new horror mystery keeps you on your toes but lets you catch your breath in between. The production was quite a journey given how very bent out of shape most people the director had approached were about the unusual narrative style. But the box office success speaks for itself–making it quite possibly one of the best horrors to wear a gory crown this year. With a beginning frightful with its relatability, a middle that opens up a whole other universe of subtle horror, and a bloody ending sweetened with the satisfaction of unforgiving justice; Barbarian (2022) is as unpredictable as a mystery thriller can get.

The story follows Tess–a woman at the mercy of the lovely oddball Bill Skarsgard’s Keith–already setting out for a tension-soaked ride, with creepiness being Bill’s natural habitat. And the rest is a constant, eerily frustrating compilation of twists that come out of nowhere. Cregger leaves no freaky detail unchecked with his chilling basement horror crawling with mysteries that would–in Tess’ words–make you say “nope.”

Barbarian (2022) Plot Summary And Movie Synopsis:

In the dark, drenched streets of Detroit, Tess (Georgina Campbell) finds herself in one of the worst nightmares an Airbnb can land her in. She has been double booked with Keith (Bill Skarsgard), who she now has to spend the night with as it is impossible to get a room at other hotels. An air of anxiety surrounds Tess as she tries to get as comfortable as she can with a strange man in the same house.

To her surprise and ours, Keith seems to be an awkward man who is a good host to her. But that isn’t quite reassuring, as even the nicest person can turn out to be the bearer of evil. Tess’ sleep is interrupted by the eerie sounds coming from Keith. Frightened Tess soon realizes that he is just having a bad dream.

Tess, who is in town for a job interview, gets an alarming warning from her possible employer. She is asked to move away from the bad neighborhood, which she now feels sort of safe in, thanks to what seems to be a crush she has on Keith. Her short-lived feeling of safety, however, soon comes to an end when she’s chased by a strange man down the street on her way to the house. Locking herself in tight and getting no help from the local police furthers her discomfort in the odd place.

Barbarian Movie Ending Explained 2022
Still from Barbarian Movie 2022

Trouble continues to pile up for Tess when she gets stuck in the shady basement. Unable to open the door from the inside, Tess starts looking around and finds a hidden door inside, leading to complete darkness. The ghostly underground darkness lures her to what can only be a dungeon with a disgusting bed, a video camera, and a bucket. Running out of the threatening room all puzzled, Tess is relieved to see Keith outside from the basement window. Keith lets her out of the basement and decides to go check out the basement himself, despite terrified Tess’ best efforts at stopping him.

Not getting any answer from Keith freaks Tess out enough to go back inside the appalling basement. While looking for him, she discovers that the dark underground mystery goes much further than she had first thought. Tess discovers a gloomy stairway going down the path of hellish darkness and hears Keith screaming out for help. Tess, still having doubts about Keith’s real intentions and obviously scared out of her mind, decides to go down the creepy stairs only to witness Keith’s violent death at the hands of a strange, monstrous woman.

We turn our eyes to AJ (Justin Long) when he gets fired from his acting job due to his coworker accusing him of rape, and is forced to liquidate his assets in order to maintain his superfluous lifestyle. And as fate would have it; he is the current owner of the horror house which he’s now staying at in order to sell it. Discovering Tess’ belongings makes him go down to the basement and instead of being scared, AJ is overjoyed with the extra acres of property he has just discovered. Measuring away with his measly tape, AJ is completely oblivious to the danger he’s about to face until he ends up in a pit and finds Tess.

The story pulls us back to the 80s when the formidable house was owned by Frank (Richard Brake), a man whose ominous aura surpasses that of even the horror basement containing the strange woman. Frank drives out to the supermarket to buy supplies for a baby that he claims hasn’t been born yet, follows a woman and gets into her home while posing as a DWP worker, and gets back home to go down to the basement as we hear a woman’s scream echoing out.

Barbarian (2022) Movie Review:

If fight or flight dilemma was a movie, it would be Barbarian (2022). Detroit’s gloomy rain-soaked lanes become the perfect setting for the tragedies taking place while the doomy score only heightens the agitation. Georgina Campbell’s muted but on-point performance raises Tess’ grounded, relatable anxiety; making her stand apart from most horror heroines. Right off the bat, the helpless fear of her having to stay with a strange man is ominous enough. Imagine how frightening it would be if the stranger is Bill Skarsgard! Casting an actor who naturally brings an air of threat with him, to play a character that’s too nice to be true but ultimately turns out to be harmless, is only the first “gotcha” twist that you will face in this horror. Cregger’s decision to cast Justin Long against his usual teddy-bear-type personality is another bold move that adds to the already high unpredictability factor of Barbarian.

The first half ends with the growing tension at its peak. Keith has just faced his bloody demise and we don’t get to know the whereabouts of Tess. Introducing AJ’s hilariously unaware character at that very moment feels like a confusing shock at first. Nonetheless, the narrative shift soon turns out to be the very distraction the movie needed in order to not overwhelm the audience to the point of monotony.

The third act’s generation shift, aided by Zach Kuperstein’s brilliance at making a Steadicam work, creates a threatening atmosphere that could not be more different from the tension down in the basement. Cregger has made it clear that there won’t be a sequel that follows the gruesome acts of Frank. He simply doesn’t want a movie about a character as unpleasant as that. Sequel or not, Barbarian is most definitely here to add tasteful brutality to the ominous eve of Halloween. So double-check that Airbnb booking and shut the door to any stairs leading down a creepy basement.

Barbarian (2022) Movie Ending, Explained:

Who is the strange woman in the dungeon?

AJ ignores Tess’ clear warning about not freaking out in front of the woman in the basement. With an old videotape about motherhood and breastfeeding playing in the background, the ghoulish woman comes back with a feeding bottle. While Tess drinks from the disgusting bottle, AJ’s refusal leads to the woman’s wrath. It is clear that whoever that woman is, she’s playing out her own nightmarish version of motherhood and the captives are her babies. The Mother (Matthew Patrick Davis) drags AJ away to force-feed him from her breast. Taking advantage of the distraction, Tess attempts to flee and manages to get out of the horror house. Running down the streets, she meets the same man that had chased her. This time the man is much calmer and tells her that he in fact knows The Mother. She has been living here for years and even comes out at night, and apparently, she isn’t the worst thing about the house.

Getting no help from the police and being driven by her goodness, Tess comes back to the house to save AJ. Meanwhile, AJ has discovered old Frank in another part of the basement. He also finds countless disturbing videotapes of the women he has brutalized. Frank ends his own life with a pistol he kept in the drawer. Being chased by The Mother makes Tess crash her car into her and she goes in to rescue AJ. In the fright of the moment, however, AJ accidentally shoots and injures her.

Both of them take shelter in the homeless man’s hideout, which according to him is not a place The Mother has ever stumbled upon on her nightly strolls. But this time, her “babies” are there and she decides to show up. At the height of danger, previously apologetic AJ decides to sacrifice Tess to save himself. His wish, however, doesn’t come true when The Mother saves Tess’ life and rips AJ’s head into two. Cradling injured Tess with as much love she can be expected to know of, The Mother tries to take her back “home”. Tess acknowledges her love but she can not possibly go back. Therefore, her disturbing motherhood comes to an end with a bullet in her head.

The homeless man who has been living here for over a decade knows of Frank’s horrific doings. Frank had abducted women and forcefully reproduced with them. And as though that wasn’t enough; Frank made babies with those babies and the cycle kept going on and on. That extent of incestuous rape had led to someone as genetically messed up as The Mother being born. Perhaps it’s her extreme oddness that made Frank keep her around forever.

Being born in the dungeon and having no contact with the world outside whatsoever; the videotape about motherhood is all she ever saw. Her entire notion of human connection is limited to that of a mother and a child. In her own horrific ways, that’s all she ever sought out. Even with her emotional and social limitations, she wasn’t devoid of kindness and the feeling of love. She showed genuine care and tenderness while handling wounded Tess. In ways–even though she inflicted a lot of pain without even being aware of it–she was a victim too.

Read More: Where to Watch and Stream ‘Barbarian’ Online?


Barbarian (2022) Movie Links – IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Barbarian (2022) Movie Cast – Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, Justin Long

Where to watch Barbarian

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