Barbarian director Zach Cregger reveals what influenced the surprising horror film. Barbarian was written and directed by Cregger as his solo directorial debut. The movie stars Georgina Campbell (black mirror), Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers), and Bill Skarsgard (It), and features a supporting cast with Richard Brake (The Munsters) and Matthew Patrick Davis. Barbarian was released on September 9, and has since become a sleepover hit, earning over $43 million. The film also received critical acclaim for Cregger’s screenplay and direction.
Barbarian follows Tess Marshall (Campbell) after finding that the AirBnB she booked is already occupied by a young man named Keith (Skarsgård) while she’s in Detroit for a job interview. After an uncomfortably tense encounter, the couple discover that the rental house has a dark mystery hidden in the basement where they find a monstrous creature called The Mother (Davis). Then Barbarian takes a surprising turn in tone and begins to follow AJ (Long), a troubled actor who owns the house. Since then, Barbarian unravels into a disturbing and unique horror film.
Now Cregger shares what inspired his successful horror film. In a recent interview with screen frenzythe Barbarian writer/director lists the films and directors who were his biggest influences in making the film, listing the 1999 Japanese horror film Audition as his main source of inspiration. Watch his full explanation below:
“I think the main influence is for this — and there’s a million influences, we’re all movie buffs, so every movie you ever see is in there somewhere. So thousands of movies go into this movie, but I’d say Audition, the 1999 Takashi Miike movie, that’s definitely the spiritual ancestor. Just because it’s very similar thematically and structurally. Psycho too. But tone wise, our line was Fincher upstairs, Raimi downstairs. David Fincher was the start, and then once we go under the house, you know, Sam Raimi with all the craziness and visual flair he uses.”
How Barbarian borrows from his various influences
Barbarian kept audiences on the edge of their seats with its twists, but Cregger’s inspirations are evident in the film. AuditionHis influence is best seen in The Mother, who, like Japanese horror film antagonist Asami, turns to monstrous acts of violence in response to years of abuse. A similar comparison can be made between AJ and Auditions Shigeharu as both men gleefully ignore warning signs that appear. Barbarian also uses the mid-movie point-of-view switch that Alfred Hitchcock’s made psychosis so groundbreaking when it was released in 1960. Cregger masterfully amps up this switch by employing the awkward tension director David Fincher often uses for the first half of Barbarian and the frenetic energy seen in Sam Raimi’s films for the second half.
A self-confessed movie buff, Cregger demonstrated his impressive knowledge of the horror genre with Barbarian. While many films borrow from others who have influenced them, few are able to combine those influences into something entirely new. Cregger could use his inspiration to make Barbarian a standout hit in a year of great horror films. It seems certain that horror fans will be looking to see if Cregger can recreate that success with his next film.
Next: Why a Barbarian Prequel Wouldn’t Work (But a Sequel Will)