Monday, October 31, 2022

Barbarian (2022)

This movie reminds me of Wrong Turn. The first half is an exquisite psychological thriller drama, and the second half is a cancel-culture-satire-inbred-zombie (spoiler) mishmash. The juxtaposition of pseudo-philosophical social commentary and total B-movie horror schlock works very well as comedy. I feel like the comedy was piled into the second half to make the film more marketable or explain the plot.

The movie sends messages, but the messages get muddled by scenes like a zombie beating a guy with his own severed arm. My main reaction to this movie is “what the fuck?” But I liked it, so good job.

The story kicks off when a chick rents a house for a night, but due to an apparent clerical mishap she is not the only one staying there. This part of the film lasts a little under an hour, and it is beautiful. Then comes the zombie part.

Why does Hollywood Hollywood? This is one of those stories that would be better handled as a small indie production. When I saw the trailer, I thought it looked like typical A24 fare, but it opened with the logo of the rotting corpse of Fox, now known as 20th Century Studios. Then came the Legendary Pictures logo, something you might see before a Batman movie. Red flag.

Despite all the schlock (and there is a lot of it) this still manages to be a good movie, but not a great movie. Contrary to expectations, the “barbarian” is not a person, not human nature, but a zombie. Past the halfway point, everything plays out more-or-less as expected. We’ve got zombies breaking through walls, zombies getting hit by cars, zombies fucking people up, and other fun set-pieces.

The story starts as a beautiful slow burn, then it awkwardly transitions into the Detroit version of a Wrong Turn knockoff. Because of course it does. No red-blooded American will watch a movie without zombies, capes, or unicorn fairies. We don’t do drama in this country. We don’t have taste.

Thanks to the Bulgarian film community, the picture was made on-time, under-budget, and as good as it could possibly be given the script. Thanks to the rotting corpse of Fox, the rotting corpse of Roger Ebert will probably say it sucks. If you’re the kind of person who goes to the Asian restaurant in the mall for some tempura but ends up with a giant plate of orange chicken and eats it anyways, this movie is for you.