Top Ten Movies of 2022 — Number Six

Written and directed by Zach Cregger, Barbarian deftly uses the familiar mechanics of the the horror genre to build in dread at every turn. The style and visual wit Cregger brings to the proceedings would be impressive enough on its own. I remain delightfully haunted by the contrasting shots, one in depth of night and the other in the cruelly revelatory light of day, of the Detroit neighborhood where Tess Marshall (Georgina Campbell) secures an Airbnb stay in a dwelling that happens to be double-booked with another short-term tenant (Bill Skarsgård). What’s more impressive is the way all this forcefully conjured dread is put in service of the overwhelming theme of the constancy and variety of misogynistic danger women find themselves in all the time. Even when the film pivots at the midway point to suddenly introduce the character of an arrogant Hollywood actor (Justin Long, in a performance singed at the edges like a Wild West wanted poster), it is to provide reinforcement of the thesis rather than diversion from it. The film is ruthlessly inventive and downright thrilling in its twisty combination of shock and insight. Cregger clearly knows the rules of the genre he plunges into, making him an ideal candidate to bend those rules to his wickedly clever will.

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