Posted on February 13, 2023
Sigh… I hate getting older. At the height of my powers, I could have watched Barbarian and Knock At The Cabin in a double feature. But this guy? This old guy? It took me three sessions to get through Barbarian alone.
Don’t get me wrong. The difficulty had nothing to do with the quality of the movie. It’s great fun, but it’s also a basket full of liquid dread and I’ve reached that point in my life where dread overwhelms desire.
Obviously, if you haven’t seen Barbarian, please stop reading now. This post will have some major spoilers in it.
The first act of the movie is just so chaotic and insane (but steeped in the reality of the AirBnB world) that you never get a chance to gain your footing logically. You’re too busy screaming at Tess not to trust Keith that you don’t really understand the actual situation.
And what brilliant casting it was to get Bill Skarsgard (PENNYWISE) to play a red herring. Or, I guess, more precisely a Janet Leigh.
I was good through all of that. I was good through Tess being locked in the basement. I was slightly less okay when she found the hidden door. And I was super jazzed when she looked into the tunnel beyond and said, “Nope.”
It’s the word we in the audience are yearning to hear in any situation like that.
But then she changed her mind and we get the first reveal of what looks like a torture room with a camera in it. And then we get the second reveal of the tunnel that goes down.
And I was out.
I should mention I usually watch horror movies around midnight when I finish writing. I’m alone in the house, it’s dark, my dog has gone to bed, and I sit dwarfed by my insanely large TV.
So maybe that has something to do with why I turned off the TV and went to bed.
“Okay, seriously, you need to push through. Things are about to change in a very weird way.” That’s my daughter exhorting me to not give up.
So, the next midnight I fire it back up Tess starts going down into the tunnel and Keith lets her out of the basement and then he goes down there and then he screams for help…
And I’m out.
“Seriously, what is your problem? Keep pushing.” This is my fault for getting her hooked on horror movies as a kid.
Midnight comes again and I fire up the stream and, man, what I thought had to be the biggest twist of the movie happened about sixty seconds in. Bye Kieth.
And then, as my daughter promised, the story takes the weirdest right turn in the history of movies. Justin Long (who this kind of stuff seems to happen to a lot) drives into the movie and into our hearts as an absolutely irredeemable douche bag just as his comeuppance arrives.
Anyway, the rest of the movie is actually quite easy to get through. Very entertaining and fun and extremely well done, but nothing near the pits dripping dread of that end-of-the-first-act tunnel exploration.