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  • Writer's pictureSteve

Barbarian (2022)

For my 350th movie of the year we have the third Airbnb mix-up in the last twelve months. Neither of the previous two were quite like this. When Tess arrives at the house she has booked to stay at, only to find that it's already occupied by Keith (Bill Skarsgård), the natural reaction would not be to take a bath/shower while the very newest stranger in your life pokes about the kitchen. Points for common sense? Nope.

Written and Directed by Zach Cregger (Mr Sara Paxton), this debut feature presentation is a good example of what you can do if you already have one foot in the door. He lays it on thick and early, with an arrival at night, in the rain, in a part of town the tourist board would not thank you for highlighting. The early exchanges are uncomfortable and wary, as opposed to and breezy and comically exasperating. The implication of threat is uppermost, straight from the getgo.

Perhaps it will all be okay, however. Keith seems to understand the position that Tess finds herself and does his gentlemanly best to assuage her fears, After a bit of bonding and sharing, followed by a somewhat fitful nights sleep, neither of them are dead or even too worse for wear, judging by the note Keith leaves for Tess the following morning, before she leaves for the purpose of her trip - an interview.

After this inauspicious start, it can only mean that something is missing, that something is coming. And it is, but maybe not what you might expect. Cregger manages to shoehorn an awful lot of story into this somewhat stunted running time, with an expansion to the plot far more unexpected than things that merely go bump in the night.

If you're not paying attention, you might miss a minute, and then be forgiven for wondering if you're even watching the same movie.

Overall, this is an impressive debut for Cregger, which admittedly slowly wanes throughout to something much less innovative and believable than the genuinely accomplished first act and its equally unusual twists. By the end, you'll be asking questions, to be sure. Mostly, why?

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