Barbarian (2022): Horror/Thriller

A woman arrives at her Airbnb rental only to confront horrors beyond her wildest nightmares.

The epitome of suspense and the confusion after that…

From a filmmaking point of view: What a 44-minute thrill! A slow-burn thriller that cuts your breath short by manipulating you as to who Keith (Bill Skarsgård) is. Can be trusted? Is he who he claims he is? Is Tess (Georgina Campbell) overly suspicious about nothing? What would you do if you were her? Her relatable character and the predicament she has to face become the solid foundation of suspense and the driver to move the story forward. And then an unexpected, horrific, and atrocious nightmare begins and unimaginably escalates – no spoilers… By cutting to AJ (Justin Long), all writer/director Zach Cregger does is leave you hanging, on one hand, but, on the other, he provides a great introduction to him, what has happened to him, and, once more, urges you to decide as to whether he is who he claims he is or someone who is accused of being. Furthermore, he eventually connects the stories perfectly. Without telling you how much later on, Cregger cuts to the “answers” of burning questions that ultimately (unintentionally?) create more. From then on, I’ll leave it up to you. Tone, pace, and rhythm change, and the narrative takes an even more unexpected turn. Last but not least, a lengthy round of applause goes to Campbell, Skarsgård, and Long who give exceptional performances.

From a sociopolitical point of view: A cleverly camouflaged (but not enough) “woke” film… The role of the white, heterosexual male, the role of the female ethnic minority, and the role of the police, to name but a few, are laid out there for you. I was in two minds at first, but the moment I heard about Reagan (no spoilers) it all became clear. Political agendas made films. From The Birth of a Nation (1915) to Oktober (1927), to Casablanca (1942), to John Wayne, to the white, heterosexual, overly muscular American “hero” of the Reagan administration, to today… films always had an agenda. Arguably, back then was a lot more difficult for the average cinemagoer to spot these agendas, but nowadays they become clear as rain. And, for me, it is off-putting. The agenda takes the focus from the narrative and places to politics. Something that you will not spot as often in independent productions as their aim is a lot more focused. Hollywood and forced-down-the-throat agendas go way back, but the good news is that there are still films out there that effortlessly aim to elevate strong female protagonists and minorities that Hollywood has been neglecting for so long and now is trying to “prove” it has been reformed (see comments on previous films I have reviewed on forced diversity).

To sum it up, the best and scariest part is the layering – distinguished and emphasised by the highly skillful editing. Hands down, one hell of a ride to hell on earth: What could possibly be beneath something that creepily lurks underground? Then, the worst and most uncalled-for part is its political agenda.

Regardless, I hope you enjoy it. It’s really worth the shot!

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Solidarity for Ukraine 🇺🇦 🙏

Stay safe!

Vesper (2022): Adventure/Drama/Sci-fi

After an apocalyptic disaster, a girl with certain skills and her paralysed father are trying to find a cure for the planet while trying to survive.

Intriguing, refreshing, beautifully flawed, and utterly atmospheric. Human hubris… the cause behind the apocalypse in numerous sci-fi/thrillers becomes here as well the reason behind our world’s ending. Thinking of knowing what we are doing and having mastered God’s complex we once more ruined nature and she triumphally returned the favour. From then on, it’s just a matter of surviving, adapting, and trying to find miraculously a solution to the calamity we so successfully caused.

As stated in the beginning, it is refreshing but not necessarily original. Having said that, it is a (cinematically) satisfactory and at the same time unpleasant view of how our post-apocalyptic world would look if that certain disaster occurred (no spoilers). Unlike Hollywood, the visual effects here only serve the narrative’s development without overshadowing it and without attempting to impress you. Writers/directors Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper offer a unique European perspective, made in the rural landscapes of Lithuania. Extra credits should be given to the cinematographer Feliksas Abrukauskas for the eerie and nightmarish mise-en-scène (everything that exists in the frame). Last but not least, a huge round of applause goes to the film’s wonderful cast: Raffiella Chapman, Eddie Marsan, Rosy McEwen, and Richard Brake.

Highly recommended to hardcore sci-fi fans and to everyone who loves paying attention to details!

Please, don’t forget to share, and subscribe. If you enjoy my work and dedication to films, please feel free to support me on https://www.patreon.com/kaygazpro. Any contribution is much appreciated and valued.

Solidarity for Ukraine 🇺🇦 🙏

Stay safe!