6 Movies To Watch After You See ‘Barbarian’
Loved 'Barbarian'? Then check out these six horror movies.
Editor’s Note: This piece has mild spoilers for Barbarian.
Zach Cregger’s Barbarian rocks. It’s a movie that encapsulates just how much the theatrical ecosystem needs bold, original horror to survive. My personal theatrical experience was one of the most engaging I’ve had in years. Audiences were rolling over in their seats, shifting between laughter and bonafide terror in tandem. It’s a remarkably accomplished horror exercise, one where Cregger does whatever he wants with unmitigated success.
Like last year’s Malignant, it’s liable to be the horror surprise of the year, a transgressive genre exercise that isn’t afraid to supplant its laughs with unflinching brutality and some monsters culled straight from Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza’s [REC]. While there are some apt comparisons to the likes of The Hills Have Eyes or the aforementioned Malignant, the following six movies hit that same Barbarian sweet spot. A mix of older indies, recent VOD releases, and some international fare, all of these have something surprising and devilish in store.
Speak No Evil
Where to watch: Shudder
Vacation rentals are bad, but sometimes, it’s the friends we make along the way that are even worse. Trading in The Rental’s ambiguity and Barbarian’s savagery, Speak No Evil is one of the year’s most accomplished horror releases. Few movies manage to probe insecurity, politeness, and the schisms of class and the expectations therein quite this well. It’s remarkably tense, deeply uncomfortable, and unflinchingly brutal when all is revealed. It’ll shake audiences to their core, reminding them that really, everyone everywhere is better off staying home.
House of Darkness
Where to watch: VOD and limited theaters
Justin Long is a scream queen. At this point, he’s endured as much horror and savagery as the lates and greats. Curiously, perhaps serendipitously, Long is arguably playing the exact same person in both Barbarian and Neil LaBute’s House of Darkness. Releasing concurrently with Barbarian, Justin Long is again confronted with horrors he remains blithely oblivious to. Here, he accompanies Kate Bosworth home to her rural estate, ignoring conspicuous warning signs something is awry. He simply wants to get laid; nightmares or uninvited guests be damned. LaBute makes excellent use of his theatrical background here. Talky, and only barely a horror movie, House of Darkness won’t work for everyone. But for those willing to succumb to the seductive charm, it’s an absolute triumph in atmosphere, dialogue, and chamber theatrics.
Come to Daddy
Where to watch: Prime Video
Ant Timpson’s Come to Daddy has a heckuva twist, a heckuva title, and heckuva good Elijah Wood at its center. Wood plays Norval Greenwood, an entitled musician living with his mother in California. One day, he’s summoned to visit his estranged father along the coast of Oregon. While it starts innocently enough, Timpson and writer Toby Harvard pile on the twists, culminating in an excess of bloodshed and sharp black comedy. Estrangement has never been this violent or fun.
Where to watch: Netflix
Barbarian certainly transcends its high concept premise. Mainstream audiences were likely expecting a standard rental-gone-bad horror exercise, maybe one with a sinisterly handsome Bill Skarsgård up to no good. Of course, it turned out to be anything but, slyly and cleverly shifting away from the conceit it centered in its marketing materials. The Rental is considerably more conventional. A mumblecore horror outing from some mumblecore vets (Dave Franco, Joe Swanberg, and Alison Brie), The Rental is exactly what it says it is. Masked assailants target four friends at their vacation home. There’s no subversion. No big twist. This is cinema-verité slaughter at its most chilling. While it lacks the stylistic flourishes of its theatrical brethren, The Rental remains remarkably chilling in its detachment.
Where to watch: Freevee
Mickey Keating, God love him. Offseason is a hoot. Darling is the work of a bonafide auteur. Pod is a miraculously short chamber piece with basement aliens. Lyla (Lauren Ashley Carter) and Ed (Dean Cates) are worried about their brother, Martin (Brian Morvant). He’s sequestered himself in a rural cabin, spouting off about a monster he’s trapped in the cellar there. I won’t spoil all the surprises in store, but Keating accomplishes a lot with a little. Sure, Pod at times compensates for a slim narrative by simply being loud in the most literal sense. But like Barbarian, it’s a wickedly fun foray into the secrets we keep locked away.
Where to watch: Prime Video and Tribeca Shortlist
Xavier Gens’ Frontier(s) might well have been the capstone to the New French Extremity style of filmmaking. Conceptually violent and transgressive, the movement encompassed the likes of Inside, High Tension, Martyrs, and Calvaire. A sort of augmented, French answer to ostensible torture porn, the extremity movement was not without its detractors, and for better or worse, Frontier(s) is likely what they meant by worse.
It trades in the same kind of arbitrary, ambiguous savagery that rendered Barbarian such a sterling surprise. Released limitedly in the states as an NC-17 release, Frontier(s) features no shortage of severed limbs and sexual violence. At times, it does flirt with violence for violence’s sake, a movie that is curiously antagonistic, begging its audience to feel outraged. Gens is a man of style, though, and for as polarizing as Frontier(s) might be, it’s worth checking out, if only to compound the insanity of Barbarian.
What did you think of Barbarian? Do you plan to check any of these out? Let me know over on Twitter!