Barbarian director Zach Cregger reveals what influenced the surprising horror movie. Barbarian was written and directed by Cregger as his solo directorial debut. The film stars Georgina Campbell (Black Mirror), Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers), and Bill Skarsgård (It), and features a supporting cast that includes Richard Brake (The Munsters) and Matthew Patrick Davis. Barbarian was released on September 9 and has since gone on to become a sleeper hit, earning over $43 million. The film also received critical praise for Cregger’s screenplay and direction.
Barbarian follows Tess Marshall (Campbell) after she finds the AirBnB she booked is already occupied by a young man named Keith (Skarsgård) while in Detroit for a job interview. After an uncomfortably tense meeting, the pair discover that the rental house has a dark mystery hidden in the basement where they find a monstrous being referred to as The Mother (Davis). Then Barbarian takes a surprising turn in tone and begins to follow AJ (Long), a troubled actor who owns the house. From then, Barbarian unravels into a disturbing and unique horror film. Now Cregger shares what inspired his hit horror film. In a recent interview with Screen Rant, the Barbarian writer/director names the films and directors that were his biggest influences when creating the movie, listing the 1999 Japanese horror film Audition as his main source of inspiration. Check out his full explanation below:
“I guess the main influence for this — and there’s a million influences, we’re all film lovers, so every movie you ever see is lodged in there somewhere. So, thousands of movies go into this movie, but I’d say Audition, the Takashi Miike 1999 movie, that’s the spiritual ancestor, for sure. Just because, thematically and structurally, it’s very similar. Psycho as well. But in terms of the tone, our rule was Fincher upstairs, Raimi downstairs. David Fincher was the beginning, and then once we go under the house, you know, Sam Raimi with all the goofiness and visual flair that he uses.”
How Barbarian Borrows From Its Various Influences
Barbarian kept audiences on the edge of their seats with its twists, but Cregger’s inspirations are actually clearly evident in the movie. Audition’s influence can be seen best in The Mother, who, similar to the Japanese horror film’s antagonist Asami, turns to monstrous acts of violence as a response to years of abuse. A similar comparison can be made between AJ and Audition’s Shigeharu as both men blithely ignore warning signs that appear. Barbarian also makes use of the mid-movie point-of-view switch that made Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho so groundbreaking when it was released in 1960. Cregger masterfully amplifies this switch by applying the uneasy tension director David Fincher often employs for the first half of Barbarian and the frenetic energy seen in Sam Raimi’s films for the second half.
As a self-proclaimed film lover, Cregger demonstrated his impressive understanding of the horror genre with Barbarian. While many movies borrow from others that influenced them, few are able to combine those influences into something wholly new. Cregger was able to take his inspiration to make Barbarian a stand-out hit in a year full of great horror movies. It seems certain that horror fans will be watching to see if Cregger can recreate that success with his next film.