A Barbarian Director Reveals the Inspiration Behind a Mysterious Horror Movie

Zach Cregger, who both wrote and directed the upcoming horror movie Barbaric, revealed that his idea for the film stemmed from a book written by a security consultant. On the surface, the film is about a woman named Tess (Georgina Campbell), who checks into her Airbnb to find that a stranger named Keith (Bill Skarsgård) has booked the house for the same night. Seemingly out of options, she decides to spend the night there anyway. Justin Long also stars as a character named Cale.


Although its official release isn’t until September 9, Barbaric premiered at San Diego Comic-Con last month. Considerable buzz and fan theories followed, and so far there’s consensus that the film takes some truly wild, unexpected, and disturbing turns. The vagueness of these reactions only further increased the mystery surrounding Barbaric. The trailer disorients viewers with an erratic montage of an underground maze, a concrete cell containing only a dirty mattress and a tripod camera, and flashes of violence as an emotionless narrator promises that “it’s perfectly natural.” Yet virtually nothing in those two and a half minutes helps explain the film’s title.

Related: The Biggest Horror Movies Coming Fall/Winter 2022

However, Cregger provided a clue by revealing that Barbaric is based on a thought he had after reading a book called The gift of fear, a self-help book written by a security consultant named Gavin de Becker. Cregger explains that the book provides detailed examples of little red flags in men’s behaviors towards women. He set out to write a scene that included “so many of these little red flags that I would ignore“, and the scene finally became Barbaric. Read the explanation Cregger gave to Screen RantThe Los Angeles projection below:

I had read this book called The Gift of Fear by this guy, Gavin de Becker, who is a security consultant. And basically, he had written many examples of behaviors that men can adopt that women are often encouraged to ignore; little microscopic red flags. And The Gift of Fear is him basically saying, “Pay attention to that little voice in your head.” Because often when we bypass those little warning signs, it’s to our detriment. These warning signs can be innocuous things, such as a man complimenting a woman when she didn’t ask, or doing her a favor she didn’t ask for, or initiating physical contact, even though it’s non-sexual and in a non-sexual situation. There are all sorts of little things you should really pay attention to.

I’m reading this, and I just realized that I never think about this shit. Because I’m a guy, so I don’t have to consider half the population a potential threat. And it was just this “fuck it” moment for me.

I didn’t want to write a film; I just wanted to write a scene where I could load up so many weird little red flags that I would ignore, but a woman probably shouldn’t. I thought of a double-booked Airbnb, and you’re stuck in a house with a man. [Keith, played by Bill Skarsgård] late at night, and he does all these things. He makes you tea; you didn’t want it… But that’s a bit of the joy of this scene: trying to decode it.

If that’s not reason enough for horror fans to check out this enigmatic question mark for themselves, Long’s role, in particular, has been teased as something that “[required] Long to tap into a particularly disturbing headspace.“If that means Long will play a villain this time around, Barbaric may be a far cry from the actor’s other horror releases like Jeepers Creepers Where drag me to hell. Long also mentioned that he had to look for ways to “find some humanityin his character.

From Creggers’ explanation, it sounds like Barbaric may fall into the socially conscious horror subgenre that has risen to the top of critics’ lists in recent years. movies like It follows, get outand more recently Body Body Body were praised beyond blood and suspense for scaring audiences with the things they have to say about society’s glaring flaws. One cannot help but notice that the inspiration behind Barbaric recalls another recent bloodbath brimming with social commentary: A24’s Men. Add the comparison of the two to the list of motivations to go to the theater on September 9th.

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