A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Despite not really being about anything in the end, movie deals with #MeToo movement in thoughtful, sometimes satirical ways, also examines the deterioration of a city in U.S. that should care more than it does. Even with a simpleminded, disappointing ending, the movie still leaves viewers with plenty to discuss.
Positive Role Models
Tess turns out to be a fairly positive role model. She tries to make the best of a bad situation, but when everything comes down to the wire, she risks danger to try to help another human being, and a rather despicable one at that.
Main character is a Black woman; she drives the action/story. Most other characters -- there are only a handful -- are White males, but one key supporting character is Black.
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Violence & Scariness
Intense gore. Bashing character's head against wall until it becomes a bloody pulp. Collection of videotapes indicating many women captured and tortured; brief screaming sounds from one tape. Dialogue about rape and sexually aggressive behavior. Monster gauges out character's eyes, rips skull apart. Monster attacks character, rips arm off, beats him with it. Character thrown from top of water tower. Guns and some shooting; characters shot. Character shoots self in head (off-screen); bloody carnage shown. Car crashing into monster. Characters dragged, thrown into pit. Spooky stuff. Gross stuff. Bloody handprint. Scary sounds. Jump scares. A man prepares to abduct a young woman.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Creature/villain is a mutated naked woman whose bare breasts are on view in many scenes. (It's really a man in an elaborate latex suit.) Dialogue about inbreeding.
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Strong, frequent language includes "f--k" and "f---ing," "motherf----r," "s--t," "goddamn," "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ" (as exclamations), "f--got," "bitch," "oh my God," "idiot," "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters goes to a bar, comes home staggering drunk, vomits in the morning. Characters casually drink wine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Barbarian is a dark, extremely creepy/gory horror movie (with satirical elements) about a sinister house in Detroit. It's skillfully made and entertaining but saddled with a disappointing monster. Gore scenes include a head being bashed against a wall until it's a bloody pulp, eye-gouging, an arm being ripped off and used as a club, a bloody gunshot wound, and more. You can also expect guns and shooting, a car crash, jump scares, etc. There's discussion and dialogue about rape and sexual aggression toward women, as well as dialogue about inbreeding. The monster appears as a mutated naked woman whose naked breasts are visible in many shots. Language is strong and frequent, with uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "f--got," and more. There's casual social drinking, and a character comes home staggering drunk from a bar (and then vomits in the morning). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Made with clear skill and confidence, this gory, creepy, topical chiller keeps its mystery under wraps for an impressively long time before revealing a monster that seems disappointingly ill-fitting. Zach Cregger's Barbarian is laid out in chapters that seem wildly disconnected at first ... until they snap together. The first chapter, with Tess and Keith -- a setup similar to the one in Gone in the Night -- mines paranoia and mistrust, especially in regards to the male-female dynamic, to an impressive degree. It's also a masterful deflection, keeping viewers guessing and offering commentary on the withering of America, depicting a ruined Detroit neighborhood that could have been saved if only someone had cared.
The second chapter, with AJ, addresses the #MeToo movement in an interesting, satirical way, showing a character who is, undeniably, an awful person, but also demonstrating the extensive damage that an accusation can do. (There's no good side to this story.) Then a weird flashback scene set in the 1980s features an eerie lens choice, creating a vast, stretched-out space and dropping more clues as to what's actually going on. But the final stretch, as characters tangle with a gross latex-suited monster that has unreasonable strength and stamina, feels like a slap in the face. It's a cheap solution to a layered and fascinating setup, a lazy borrow from films like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or Evil Dead II. It's hard to recommend Barbarian based on this disappointing finish, but the craftsmanship -- and strong entertainment value -- of the first three-quarters is hard to deny.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.