Barbarian Director Zach Cregger on Making the Scariest Movie of the Year

“You might think you know what to expect, but trust me, you don’t”

Content of the article

Barbaric might start out as a typical horror movie – a woman arrives late at night for a stay at an Airbnb, only to find it’s been double-booked, with the other guest a creepy guy – but the writer-director Zach Cregger is promising that you won’t be able to predict what’s going to happen.

Advertisement 2

Content of the article

“This movie is a roller coaster ride,” Cregger says of his first solo feature film. “You may have seen the trailer and think you know what’s to come, but believe me, you don’t know all the twists.”

Content of the article

Tess (Georgina Campbell) has rented a house in a run-down Detroit neighborhood for a job interview. When she shows up in a downpour, she meets Keith (Bill Skarsgard), who has also rented the house to another service. As thunder rumbles outside, he suggests they share accommodation.

Georgina Campbell as Tess in Barbarian.
Georgina Campbell as Tess in Barbarian. Photo by 20th Century Studios

But, of course, there is something sinister in the basement waiting for them.

“I don’t know if I can talk about it,” Cregger says, teasing his twisted scares. “I will say it’s surprising and it’s not what you expect.”

Later, the arrival of Justin Long – as a fallen Hollywood star – and a flashback scene involving the former owner of the house add to the film’s many twists.

“I kept thinking, ‘what would be the most interesting thing to see happen next?’ And that’s what I wrote.

Advertisement 3

Content of the article

We apologize, but this video failed to load.

Cregger is one of the founding members of the The Whitest Kids You Knew comedy team, and starred in sitcoms such as Friends with benefits, guys with kids and About a boy. But while there’s laughter in Barbaricthis is not a horror comedy.

“I scared myself writing this. I wrote it late at night in my garage, and there were times when I freaked out. It’s a good feeling.

Jordan Peele, who rose from the sketch comedy series Key and Peele to become one of the new voices of horror with his hit get outwas also a source of inspiration.

“My time in comedy was good training for horror,” Cregger says. “They are so similar. It’s about both surprising and subverting expectations. A joke is a zigzag when the audience expects you to zag, and horror is the same.

Advertisement 4

Content of the article

There are so many shocking surprises in Barbaric. What has been your favorite reaction so far?

“I remember our very first drug test, I was so nervous, I had never shown it to an audience and there is a moment when Keith comes downstairs to investigate what is in the basement and Tess is waiting at the top of the stairs and she drops her bag. A woman in the theater shouted, “No, Tess! That’s when I knew I had (the audience). I had something. I love this sequence and hearing people scream as the door slowly closes…”

Georgina Campbell as Tess in Barbarian.
Georgina Campbell as Tess in Barbarian. Photo by 20th Century Studios

It’s an Airbnber’s worst nightmare. Where did the idea come from?

“I had read this book, The gift of fear, which encourages women to pay attention to their subconscious and identify those seemingly innocuous red flags that men can throw out in their day-to-day interactions… So I started with a scene where I layered on as many red flags as possible. I thought if I could put on enough, I would have real tension. I thought about the dual-booking Airbnb, then just went to work. He makes her tea, even though she says she doesn’t want tea. He tells her she has a nice name – it’s not appropriate in this situation. He insists on carrying his luggage. These things were very tight and I had no idea where it was going from there, I just followed my fingers.

Advertisement 5

Content of the article

Bill Skarsgard in Barbarian.
Bill Skarsgard in Barbarian. Photo by 20th Century Studios

Barbaric is one of those horror movies that breaks the rules. Did you have any rules?

“No rules. I tried to take my brain out of the process as much as possible and just be an audience member…All the while, I kept thinking, ‘What the hell am I doing? would like to see? When you take the results out of the process, you are much more liberated.

So did you know how this crazy story was going to end?

“I worked step by step. Stephen King likes to think of himself as an archaeologist as he writes, digging up bone after bone, not knowing what he’s going to find. I tried to adopt this state of mind.

Justin Long plays a despicable guy in this movie. How did you become convinced that he could achieve this?

“He’s a terrific actor, so I knew he could bring anything to life. But the character is vile and to put it through someone like Justin – which is a total joy – is compelling.

Advertising 6

Content of the article

Justin Long as Cale in Barbarian.
Justin Long as Cale in Barbarian. Photo by 20th Century Studios

Why was Georgina the ideal actress to play Tess?

“She has this empathetic quality where you can just carry yourself into her. She’s the perfect vessel for audiences – as soon as she’s on screen, you fall in love with her.

There are shocking scares in this film. Were there times when you thought, “Uh, where did I come from with some of this stuff?”

(Laughs) “No, I’m not trying to judge. Admittedly, there are twisted things in this movie and I understand when people look at me weirdly. But I feel like I have a good head on my shoulders. I don’t think I’m a sick, twisted guy, so that’s fine.

This is likely to become a favorite among horror fans. What scary movies would you take with you if you were stuck on a desert island?

” There are so many. I’m just gonna burn a bunch here. Chainsaw Massacre is the biggest. The Exorcist, the brilliant, Hearing, Hereditary, get out, evil death 2, Sainte Maud …I could go on. Out of pity for your audience, I’ll leave it at that.

Barbaric is in theaters now.

[email protected]


We apologize, but this video failed to load.

Advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. Visit our Community Rules for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Comments are closed.