Who Is The True Barbarian?


Scar Alread, Associate Producer

Barbarian is a 2022 horror movie written and directed by Zach Cregger. The story follows Tessa Marshall(Georgina Campbell) and how she survives the movie, where her male co-stars could not say the same. This movie portrays different ranges of toxic masculinity seen in men as well as true monsters in our society.

Spoilers ahead:

There are four on screen deaths in this movie: Keith, Frank, Andre and finally to close the movie, Mother.

Keith, played by Bill Skarsgård, is the first to bite the dust. He introduces us to Mother as he gets his head bashed into the gravel wall in the hidden room in the basement of the rental house. I would not say he personally deserved to die, but he followed very masculine stereotypes that led to his death.

For example when Tessa and Keith first met, she expresses how as a woman she’d never would’ve let him into the rental house if their roles were reversed. This shocks Keith because a thought like that never crossed his mind when we as women have ten times that amount of thoughts just walking by ourselves. 

Another trait he exhibits is that he is the “top dog” in the room. That no one else would be a threat to him. It’s not a terrible belief to have but he gets proven wrong in a drastic way. 

When Tessa uncovered the basement’s secret room, she knew when to turn back and run away. Hyperventilating to Keith, begging him not to go downstairs and just call the police, she gets undermined by him saying that it’s not that bad and he’ll only be down for a minute. A minute turns into minutes as he has discovered a whole new labyrinth that’s hidden beneath the basement.

His flight or fight has not been triggered yet until he quite literally gets bit by Mother. Now he’s screaming for help from Tessa, who reluctantly goes and helps him. Almost all of us would’ve made the same choice because we try to be good people, but going into that hell hole, was a terrible mistake. 

While trying to lead Keith out of the mess he created, she watches him get killed by Mother, and that’s the end of his character.

All in all, he was a pretty okay guy, needed to trust Tessa when she said not to go down into the basement but curiosity killed the cat with this one.

Frank was the second person we see die, he does this by taking his own life. Suicide is a terrifying thing and should never occur, but for him, he is an absolute monster and suicide was a cowardly way to escape the mess he made. 

In the 80’s he kidnapped, raped and murdered women. I have no sympathy for him.

On top of the malicious acts he did, when the women he raped got pregnant and had children, he raped those girls as well creating an incestuous bloodline. You make the connection on how Mother came to be and why she faces many physical deformities. 

Frank is the real monster of this movie for everything he did but the worst thing is, there are men in our world today who don’t see the issue in raping a woman. As if we are nothing but objects for their pleasure. 

While AJ was still trapped in the labyrinth, he made it all the way to Frank’s room. Upon seeing that there was another person, another man down here, this was a huge win to AJ.

He instantly jumps into calling Mother an absurd amount of disgusting things and to his credit, he’s fair for these comments because of what Mother did to him. At the same time He’s talking about all of this while staring at the man responsible for her.

Andre’s death was a hard one to watch. He’s survived Mother so far which increased his confidence and joined the rest of the male characters in thinking nothing can stop them.

His death had a good jump scare but an obvious one because right before he dies, Tessa asks him if Mother will find them here (the water tower). He answers confidently “I’ve been living here for fifteen years, and she ain’t never came in this…” boom, Mother busts through the door and effortlessly kills him. 

Pretty obvious but to his point, yes she never came by because Tessa wasn’t there. Mother’s connection to Tessa was strong enough to the point that Mother would go anywhere to get Tessa back home with her.

We, as the audience, liked Andre; he was kind to our protagonist, Tessa and he stuck his neck out to save her when he didn’t have to.

AJ doesn’t last much longer after Andre’s death. AJ is definitely the second worst character in this movie. A powerful man in the acting business until he gets a lawsuit against him for allegations of raping his co-star in their show. 

Spoiler alert: he did rape her.

He is the example of real monsters in our society for thinking they could do this because of their power or status and be able to get away with it. AJ takes the stance of “being the victim” and that his career is now ruined. 

AJ plays the victim role throughout the movie saying he wants to be better and do good things, while never putting any effort into those claims.

Time and time again he didn’t put faith in Tessa when they were trapped in the basement, even though she’d been down there longer and was still living.

On top of that, he accidentally shoots Tessa. Our favorite girl Tessa. By the way, when she got shot, she should’ve bleed out but horror movie laws let people with gunshot wounds in major organs live and continue to move about.

Once Andre got killed, Tessa and AJ ran up the stairs of the water tower. Tessa obviously needs help, gets none from AJ. His savior complex is out the window and it’s every man for themselves. 

Tessa is crawling up the stairs while AJ runs in front of her. They get to the top of the tower and to their shock, there’s nowhere else to go! Who could’ve seen this coming? In all honesty we would’ve all done the same because you can’t outrun Mother.

Thinking on his feet, AJ comes up with the perfect plan that makes you scream at your screen. He looks at Tessa, and says “I can get away, but you’re going to have to slow her down.” With that, he grabs her and pushes her off the water tower.

In this scene Tessa is on her hands and knees while AJ is standing over her. Once again, AJ doesn’t fail to save himself.

To his credit, his plan worked, Mother takes the bait and doesn’t hesitate to leap off the tower and wraps Tessa in her arms, putting herself between Tessa and the ground. 

No selfish deed goes unpunished and AJ joins the two by taking the stairs. Mother is bleeding out and Tessa is groaning in pain, but she’s still alive. Following another horror movie stereotype, AJ does the soft kick where you see if someone’s actually dead or not. 

Mother wasn’t dead and she sat up, quickly killing him. So much for everything AJ, I’m not sorry you died. Time and time again you proved to be a terrible person with no respect to women.

Finally the biggest death and the final death of this movie, Mother. Her character had so many layers because the first time you see her, she’s killing Keith and you think “oh this is another monster horror movie.” It’s so much more than that.

Deeper into the movie, you realize that she’s a victim of these terrible actions Frank caused and you start having sympathy for her.

She grew up in a world full of pain and anguish, probably the only people in her life were her mother and Frank. With her mother being her only influence, all she looked for in life was her own baby to care for.

The only person in this movie who played this mother daughter game was Tessa. Tessa played along to survive but by the end of the movie, Tessa gained an immense amount of sympathy for Mother as they both bleed out.

        Mother is urging her to come back to the house with her, trying to grab her or pull her. Unable to move, Tessa is crying in pain, shaking her head at Mother.

Tessa knows how this has to end and slowly picks up the gun beside her. She stares at Mother, slowly points the gun at her head and with that Tessa pulls the trigger. 

The movie ends with Tessa over Mother’s body as “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes starts to play in an upbeat fashion. Such an ironic choice to finish a sorrow filled movie that leaves you too stunned to speak.