Barbarian review: Like riding a rollercoaster – laugh, scream, you want to get off and then don’t want it to end
A GREAT horror film can feel like riding a rollercoaster – you laugh, you scream, you want to get off and then you don’t want it to end.
All emotions that are felt when watching top-class terror, Barbarian.
The low-budget but highly skilled film is a tale of two halves.
The first is set up as a relatable nightmare.
Tess (Georgina Campbell) has arrived at her Airbnb to find Keith (Bill Skarsgard) has already rented it.
It’s dark, raining, Tess has an important job interview the next day and there’s a convention in town, meaning every hotel room is booked.
While Keith seems like a pretty reasonable chap, it’s never a good idea to stay in a house with a slightly socially awkward man.
You have a deep sense there’s something very off about Keith. The casting of Skarsgard — who is old hat at horror having played Pennywise in the recent IT franchise — is perfect.
He’s a bit good-looking but also a bit, well, strange-looking. And he’s able to make his eyes disconcertingly unreadable.
But after much convincing, Tess does stay — with Keith on the sofa and her in a bedroom with a lock.
Things do go bump in the night, though, and soon Tess finds herself in a terrifying basement room that holds a filthy mattress, bloody hand-prints on the wall and a camcorder up to no good.
After much mischief in the basement occurs — none of which I can share without spoilers — the film suddenly cuts to arrogant actor AJ (Justin Long, on some excellent comedy-horror form) who is driving along a sunny coastal road in his sportscar.
His smarmy smile is soon wiped off his face with a call from his agent, who reveals AJ’s latest co-star has accused him of sexual assault and he has been dropped from his movie.
There’s only one thing for it. AJ has to sell some of his rental properties — one of which is, you guessed it, the one where Tess and Keith are having that interesting time in the basement.
On his visit to the house, he finds a lot more than just some dodgy damp patches — and soon this film is spinning out into a world of first-class fear.
The cast’s main trio put in top performances, getting the perfect balance of comedy, empathy and just plain awful.
By the time it’s over, you’ll want to queue up for another go.
THE GOOD NURSE
WHY did American nurse Charles Cullen kill a suspected 400 patients in his care?
If you are hoping this Netflix dramatisation of real events is going to answer that question, you are going to be disappointed.
Eddie Redmayne’s Cullen is as distant as a UK economic recovery – and for me that’s what makes The Good Nurse so great.
It does not seek to get under the skin of this serial killer or explain his actions.
Such monsters should not be “understood.”
Instead, the focus is on Jessica Chastain’s hero nurse Amy Loughren, who helped bring her colleague Cullen to justice.
While others turned a blind eye to the threat posed by this killer on the wards, she risked her job and health to take him on. Danish director Tobias Lindholm sensibly approaches this as a thriller rather than a medical drama – I watched creepy Cullen’s interactions with single mum Amy through my hands. Lindholm also draws intense performances from both Redmayne and Chastain.
Be warned, The Good Nurse will leave you psychologically drained.
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