BARBARIAN – Review by Susan Granger

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This year’s spooky season starts with Barbarian.

It’s a dark and stormy night when documentary researcher Tess Marshall (Georgina Campbell) arrives in Detroit for an important job interview. Finding the Airbnb accommodation she’s rented, she realizes it’s ominously situated in a rundown neighborhood that’s filled with abandoned houses.

When the key is missing from the lockbox, Tess discovers that that the dingy, dimly lit place is already occupied. Awkwardly explaining that the house was double-booked by a different service, Keith Toshko (Bill Skarsgard) is not only friendly but he offers to give Tess the bedroom while he sleeps on the couch. Of course she’s suspiciously hesitant but a local convention has filled all the available hotel rooms.

While she’s asleep, the bedroom door mysteriously opens and she hears Keith moaning in fear, obviously suffering from a dreadful nightmare. Nevertheless, the next morning Tess gets up and goes to her job interview.

When she comes back to the Airbnb, she ventures into the basement, looking for toilet paper. That’s where she finds a secret door leading to hidden corridors and subterranean bedrooms that comprise this real house of horrors.

Not to reveal too much, let’s just say there are malevolent twists and turns, revolving around its former owner (Richard Brake) and current owner, a disgraced, despicably loathsome and glibly entitled Hollywood type (Justin Long).

Within Its solid three-act structure, scripted by Danny Chan, Alex Lebovici, Bill Skarsgard and director Zach Cregger, it unexpectedly blends gross, brutal comedy with sleazy horror. Which is not surprising since Zach Cregger is a former member of “The Whitest Kids U’Know” sketch group. As a result, there are allusions to white flight, #MeToo and toxic masculinity.

Credit goes to cinematographer Zach Kuperstein who makes the most of the creepy, claustrophobically cramped setting.

FYI: The title Barbarian refers to a cruel, primitive, dangerously uncivilized person.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Barbarian barges in with a surprising, savage 6, playing only in theaters.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.