Zach Cregger is perhaps best known for his humor, particularly the comedy sketch The Whitest Kids You Knewbut now he’s brought us a truly shocking horror movie with Barbaric (in theaters September 9), starring Georgina Campbell, Justin Long and Bill Skarsgård.
“I had no idea where it was going as I was writing it,” Cregger said. Yahoo Canada. “I didn’t want to write a movie, I wanted to write a single scene where I could load as many micro red flags into an interaction as possible.”
“So I thought a dual-booking Airbnb was a fun scenario,…and then as I got along, and started to shape it, I started to like it from more and more… My only rule for me is to surprise myself because if I don’t know where it’s going there’s no way the audience can know where it’s going I just kept it like my pole star and that’s what came out of it.
What is ‘Barbarian’ about?
Barbaric introduces us to Tess (Georgina Campbell), who struggles to get into an Airbnb she’s booked in Detroit for a job interview she has in the city. It turns out that someone named Keith (Bill Skarsgård) also booked the house, and he got there first. The couple decide to spend the night on the property, in separate rooms, but Tess is woken up in the middle of the night by suspicious activity.
The house is actually owned by Hollywood actor AJ (Long), who is the epitome of a toxic, titled white man. When he’s accused of sexual assault by a co-star, AJ must begin liquidating his assets, which brings him home to Detroit.
To spoil any of the scares would be cruel, but we’ll say this film will not only shock you, but it also delves into the horrible. Zach Cregger revealed that there was initially even more gruesome content that was omitted from the film, especially for Long.
“Some of the most gruesome scenes were actually cut from the movie,” Cregger said.
“[Justin Long] was so game… I took some scenes out of the script when I sent it to him because I didn’t want him to be put off, I wanted him to say yes, and then when he showed up on set, I see if I could perhaps persuade him to do certain things.
While all the characters carry this tense film well, combining horror with the breath of lighter comedic elements, Georgina Campbell really stands out in the story, both because of her performance and the broader cultural reflection that his character adds to the story.
“She’s so natural and gifted, and has this really amazing empathetic quality that lets you project yourself into her, and I was over the moon when she said yes to that part,” Cregger said.
“The point of the film is the different psychic landscapes that men and women occupy, and the idea that they’re both going through the same trajectory and yet he sees it as greed and she sees it as a threat, that’s what the movie is about.”
While that might seem like a departure for Cregger, he’s always been a fan of horror, but pointed out that horror and comedy are actually “very closely related.”
“They’re both about subverting expectations and timing, and so they’re no different in my mind,” he explained. “My favorite horror movies let you laugh, when they want you to laugh, and so it’s all about tension and release.”