The 'barbaric' ending explained: smash all the twists

The ‘barbaric’ ending explained: smash all the twists

Warning: This article is about spoilers for the quirky new horror movie ‘Barbarian’. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our No Packaging Materials review here and more with the cast and director here.

This one-word title looms large over “The Barbarian,” one of the most delightfully twisted horror films of 2022, in which a woman named Tess (Georgina Campbell) stumbles into a nightmare when she finds her rented house is already occupied by a stranger.

It’s a horror journey filled with suspense, fear, amazing laughter, and some delicious cinematic twists since last year’s movie “Malignant.”

What Tess discovers in the basement leads her into a maze of unimaginable horrors – some closer than you think. But who is the real monster in director Zack Krieger’s one-man appearance on Airbnb-of-horrors?

Bill Skarsgard stars in “The Barbarian”.

(Twentieth Century Studios)

The gentle man and the gentle encounter from Hell

At first, the signs mention the aforementioned handsome stranger, Keith (“It” star Bill Skarsgård, also an executive producer, skillfully playing his character in Pennywise), who acquires a charm to induce Tess to lower her guard and spend the night, or else Storm Brawler is outside. After some kind gestures and good conversation, she shrugged off her instincts and said yes – although Krieger’s script and Skarsgård’s diction create a sharp ambiguity about Keith’s motives.

“My only note to Bell [Skarsgard] It was, ‘Don’t tend to creep. Krieger said. “The nicer you are, and the more disarming, friendly, attractive, and non-threatening you are, the more the public will be convinced that you are bad.”

Inspired in part by security expert Gavin de Becker’s book “The Gift of Fear,” Burberry conjures up a minefield of misogynistic red flags for its heroine to set sail before she even crosses paths with local screamer Andre (James Butler), sitcom actor AJ (Justin Long) and inhabited a violent tunnel known as The Mother (obviously played by Matthew Patrick Davis).

“[Keith] He insists on bringing her luggage, makes her tea which she said she doesn’t want, and says, “Nice name,” Krieger said. These are not appropriate things to do in this situation. But he doesn’t know it, because he thinks he’s behaving kindly.”

Is there something more sinister about Keith that Tess can’t see? Does it have anything to do with the doors that open and close in the middle of the night? The question hangs in the air as Tess makes a series of shocking discoveries in his basement, where a hidden door leads to a mysterious corridor and a secret room where clearly very bad things have happened.

Behind her is another door that leads to the subterranean lair of the film’s titular monster – the capricious mother.

A woman holds a flashlight up the stairs.

Creepy vault, or square footage bonus? Hidden chambers lead to unexpected horror in “The Barbarian”.

(Twentieth Century Studios)

mother under the stairs

said Davis, the 6-foot-8-inch actor and musician who is behind the most surprising character on ‘Burberry’. Filmed after a Zoom test, he stripped to his underwear and imitated a rat’s head with a pickle he found in his fridge.

“I was just too aware this could be funny the right way or the wrong way,” Davis said of his “Barbarian” performance. “When you’re in it, you have no idea how you perceive it. You realize it’s a big swing and it’s insane and that, you know, you’re sitting naked there in Bulgaria with boobs taped to your chest. Are people going to buy this?”

Before filming began last summer, he took advice from mythical creatures performer Doug Jones, including the fine line between physical expression and excessive nonverbal disposition, and other professional advice: get in touch with the prescription creatures, or else gnaw on them while chasing co-stars from Through these dark tunnels.

You are sitting there naked in Bulgaria with your breasts pressed against your chest. Will people buy this?

“The Barbarian” Matthew Patrick Davis

But the mother’s backstory is also the most tragic event in the film. To report on her emotional state, Davis studied the profiles of children and wild adults, and dived into a search for a “dark and unsettling YouTube rabbit hole.” As he sat in a chair for three hours in prosthetics and makeup every day, he watched videos to prepare.

“It opened me up to the realities of life of people who were severely abused, raised in cages, raised like animals, kept in the dark and never spoken to in their formative years,” he said. “It allowed me to empathize with this character. This is not just a scary character for the sake of fear. If you watched the movie, you know she is a victim.”

“I think she’s the most empathetic character in the movie. She never had a chance,” echoes Cregger, who also credits Davis with inspiring him to write certain gestures in the well-worn VHS motherhood tape, which comes full circle in the film’s final scene Bittersweet. “And Matthew plays it with such tenderness.”

Father’s sins

After introducing Mother, the school horror movie monster we’ve come to expect, Cregger challenges us throughout the film to reconsider who the actual barbarian is in the story. First seen in a flashback from the Reagan era, Frank (Richard Brick, who recently starred in Amazon’s “Bingo Hell” and murdered Bruce Wayne’s parents in “Batman Begins”) is her opposite—a mean suburban outsider. A real monster inside.

Borrowing from the serial killer films “Angst” (1983) and “Elephant” (both the 2003 Gus Van Sant movie and the 1983 Alan Clark movie of the same name), Cregger is concerned as the camera follows Frank to the store, where he stores it on A suspicious grocery list, while chasing a young woman home.

It turns out that he has kidnapped, raped, and carried many women into the secret rooms below his house decades ago, and that the mother is another daughter of his victims, born into miserable captivity.

But he tells us that it wasn’t Tess who found out about Frank’s horrific truth in the movie. Instead, it’s an AJ (tall, brilliantly playing against genre) from mother to a section of tunnels where she doesn’t even dare follow him.

scene in the movie

Justin Long plays AJ, the owner of the rented house, in “The Barbarian”.

(Twentieth Century Studios)

Enter the Hollywood actor

Provide carefree sailing down the Pacific Coast Highway and sing along Donovan “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” The narcissistic Hollywood star recently entered his own version of the nightmare: an accusation of sexual assault that threatens to unravel his successful career.

“Because I’m an actor, and I know the world of actors so well, I’ve been writing from a mix of people in my life,” Cregger said of AJ’s character perception. “I was trying to think of, ‘What is this guy’s horror movie?'” Before he got into the real horror movie – what horror movie does he think he’s in? The collapse of your career and reputation because of your bad behavior. This guy thinks his world is going to end.”

AJ, who at first glance appears to be a silly comic character, is revealed to be the scariest character in the movie. In Detroit to liquidate his rented home to cover his impending legal fees, he is the embodiment of male privilege and casual misogyny, his bulging guts hiding an inherent cowardice and refusal to take responsibility for his actions. (Although not explicitly addressed in the film, Krieger says he intentionally wrote that the “barbarian” men wrote that they were white males.)

When sick AJ discovers Frank and is judged by his brutal crimes, the audience is invited to wonder: How different is he from the monster staring at him?

Frank, at least, seems to know he can’t escape what he’s done. AJ’s brief moment of clarity returns to gassing self-preservation as he commits one heinous act at last, trying to hide his true nature behind a gentle, well-trained man’s shell — a feature she long borrowed from watching men make a blank apology to The Bachelorette.

“There is a glimmer of accountability, and I love that Zack refuses to go the traditional way out,” Long said.

As for Tess, it is her innate sense of empathy–which sends her again and again into danger to help others, at her own peril–that helps her understand her mother before she sets them free. “She’s someone who is used to painful situations and is able to understand how to survive in that situation,” Campbell said. “By the end of the movie, I feel like she’s got her own agency and is able to break out of the pattern in which she found herself over and over again.”

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