Parents' Guide to

Barbarians

By Alistair Lawrence, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Cagey thriller has language, drugs, violence, and trauma.

Movie NR 2022 89 minutes
Barbarians movie poster

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This low-budget thriller has some familiar faces but also plenty of familiar plot devices, none of them that well-crafted. Centered around an ill-fated birthday meal, Barbarians rushes both its setup and its finale, to make room for a home invasion at its halfway point that drives an even bigger wedge between the passive-aggressive Adam and his bullying childhood friend and business partner, Lucas. While Games of Thrones' Iwan Rheon capably plays against type as the former, there's not much for Downton Abbey star Tom Cullen to do as Lucas, other than literally throw his weight around. In addition, the home invaders that disrupt proceedings have to work as hard to justify their place in the story as they do in tying-up and threatening the lead characters.

Writer-director Charles Dorfman does seed some interesting bits of backstory for his cast to play with. But overall, you're left with a feeling that Barbarians would've worked better as a slow-burning psychological drama, without the forced horror element, instead leaving its four leads to inflict more of their secrets and lies on each other as their personal lives crumble around them.

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