Barbarian tells a haunting story that grows out of an innocent misunderstanding. A double-booked Airbnb leads to a series of creepy consequences that no one sees coming. Some horror films connect with crowds over a big twist, but there’s far more than that at play with Barbarian. It’s a horror film that gets under the audience’s skin in a multitude of ways.
Many of the best horror movies incorporate deep social commentary into their stories, aiming to do more than simply terrify the audience. A major piece of subtext that courses through Barbarian is societal disparity and the homeless crisis that exists in Detroit.
Tess is repeatedly warned about her Airbnb's neighborhood, and Frank is only able to build such an intricate house of horrors because of the community’s neglect. There’s a chilling moment where Tess turns to the police for help and is nearly ignored because they dismiss her as just another homeless drug addict. It’s a terrifying reflection of society’s apathy.