Stay out of weird basements!
Barbarian, in my opinion, is a movie of two parts.
Tess is traveling to Detriot, MI for a job interview. When she arrives at her AirBnB, she finds that someone is already there, a young man by the name of Keith. Keith also booked the AirBnB for the same night through a different website. Tess is overly cautious, but rightfully so. Keith tries almost too hard to be a nice guy and to be accommodating and understanding of Tess’s plight.
Keith, working with the understanding that, because of some other event in town, there are no other hotel spaces available, offers to share the AirBnB with Tess. Finding herself between Paranoia and Desperation, Tess reluctantly agrees and with the exception of waking up to find her previously closed bedroom open in the middle of the night which leads her to wake up a seemingly innocent Keith, the night comes and goes without incident.
The following day, post-interview, Tess returns to the house. As she leaves her car, a homeless man runs after her, chasing her into the house. Fearful, she doesn’t quite hear him warning her about being in the house. Later, she discovers that the bathroom is out of toilet paper and goes to the basement to get more. The door locks behind her, trapping her downstairs. This leads to some exploration that uncovers a hidden room containing an old bed and an old video camera on a tripod, pointing at the bed.
She leaves the room and finds Keith arriving. She gets the keys to Keith through a window and he comes inside to set her free.
Fear meter on high, Tess tries to leave, but too helpful Keith insists on exploring the basement himself and asks Tess not to leave so that the door doesn’t close on him as it did on her. Again, she agrees, but when Keith no longer responds to calls, she goes down after him.
She discovers a second secret door by the first one and assuming that Keith went through it, goes in behind him. At the end of a long hall much deeper than anyone should be comfortable with, she finds a scared Keith warning of a person or creature* that grabbed him and took him down this corridor. The creature finds them both, killing Keith and attacking Tess.
AJ is an actor/producer who, while driving in the hills along a beach, gets the call that he’s being accused of sexual misconduct and is being fired from the project and sued by the victim.
With this impending court case looking to cost him a lot of money, AJ decides to take a trip to Detriot, MI where he owns some property that he can liquidate.
He arrives at our AirBnB where a car is parked out front. Inside, it appears that someone is living inside. AJ checks in with the company in charge of renting the property out and they say that whoever was last staying there never checked out. AJ stays the night with no incident and the next day, AJ explores the house in preparation to sell it.
As AJ explores the basement, he finds both the first and second secret halls. Excited about added square footage, he takes a tape measure down the same long and dark corridor only for him to fall into a pit. As the pit closed above him, he see that he isn’t alone. Tess is in the pit with him, warning him to play along with the creature that has them both captive.
AJ doesn’t listen and when he yells to be set free, the creature comes and takes him away. Tess notices that the creature forgets to close the hatch and she escapes through the basement window and makes it out alive. Tess breaks back into the house to get some of her things but is compelled to help AJ. The police are no help so she goes back in to save AJ.
They make it out, but the creature comes for them both. In the end, Tess kills the creature and walks away from the hell she’s been through.
I have a few issues with this movie. First of all, the character of Tess.
In the beginning, Tess is a very cautious woman. She originally is very leery of Keith, which given the current state of affairs is to be expected. Keith offers her tea, and though she declines, he makes it anyway. After agreeing to stay the night, Keith waits until she’s present to open the bottle, noticing her distrust. She locks doors behind her and takes photos of Keith’s ID just in case he’s a creeper or tries to harm her, again, fair all things considered. But later, she puts herself in harm’s way for Keith and for AJ, neither person she knew for more than 24 hours.
She was out of captivity, she got her stuff and was in the car. She should have driven away and called the police. They were useless the first time, but hey, if you just watched someone die, got held for about two weeks, and managed to escape, you should just get the fuck out and call someone when you’re safe. Sounds selfish, but it’s personal safety - fuck ‘em!
Also, during Tess’s interview, when she shares where she’s staying, the interviewer warns her that she’s not safe. It’s immediately after this that she gets back and the homeless man chases her into the house. THIS should have been the end of her stay. Get your show, make sure the coast is clear, leave the keys for Keith, and get out of there. Call the interviewer back and see what options may be available or just head home.
Keith was a great foil character. His overt kindness along with Tess’s walls being up leads you, the viewer, to be distrusting of Keith from the start. In the end, he was just a nice guy trying to her a stranger and it eventually cost him his life.
Overall, I give this movie an 8. While the story is original and the ending makes sense, I can’t honestly say that there was a reason for the events to have happened the way they did, mainly surrounding Tess going from super safe and guarded to knowingly and willfully going into known danger for the sake of strangers, though I was still entertained by the movie.
*- The creature, as we’d learn, is an ultra-inbred woman who treats her captives like children. The man who once owned the house would kidnap and rape the women, filming them in that first room and down the other corridor, he’d keep them. AJ would discover the very old man while trying to escape. The old man killed himself when AJ confronts him with the discovery of the tapes.