What really sets “Barbarian” out from the pack is how it presents itself. You start with an idea that could fill an entire movie all its own, but by the time you reach its bloody conclusion, you realize you’ve just been treated to about five different horror movies – all of which complement one another beautifully.
As horrifying as “Barbarian” can get, it’s also uniquely funny in ways I hadn’t anticipated. Given Cregger’s background in comedy, he wanted to strike this balance where the horror and the macabre sense of humor build upon one another as this madness unfolds (via Bloody Disgusting):
“A structure like this absolutely aids both of those. I was surprised as I was writing it. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t outline this movie. I was typing away and trying to follow the story like an audience member.”
Once “The Mother” turns Bill Skarsgård’s head into the equivalent of a watermelon that met a sledgehammer, I was on an adrenaline rush of fear to see what happened next. And then, all of sudden, we’re thrust into an entirely different movie where Justin Long is singing Riki Tiki Tavi’s “Donovan” in his Alfa Romeo Spider convertible while driving down the highway on a bright sunny day. You can’t help but laugh along with the whiplash of going from pure terror to a casual drive.
It’s one of many inspired choices “Barbarian” makes in the span of 102 minutes.