FANTASTIC FEST: Barbarians (2021)

Charles Dorfman has produced plenty of movies as of late, including VFWSatanic PanicThe Fanatic, Boys from County Hell and plenty more. Barbarians is the first film that he’s directed but it sure doesn’t seem like it.

The concept is simple: our friends come together for a birthday celebration in a remote country home.

Yet you know how movies about dinner parties go. There are secrets to be unearther and hell to be unleashed.

You can sense the tension from the moment that the party begins. By the end of the main course, Lucas, Adam, Chloe and Eve have gone from polite conversation to outright resentment. And them, well, three armed gunmen intrude on the festivities.

At the heart of all of this is the conflict between two brothers. Tom Cullen is perhaps best known for his work on Black Mirror and Downton Abbey, while Iwan Rheon was Ramsay on Game of Thrones (and Maximus in Marvel’s first take on The Inhumans and Mick Mars in The Dirt). Their interplay and how their long-standing relationship — and how it changes as their partners come into their life — form the backbone of this tale.

By the end, things get dark. And not just in narrative tone, but the film gets literally shadowy in tone, which feels like something Rheon was used to coming from the inky blackness of Thrones. Also, this is yet another film that presents chapter headings for each narrative shift of the story.

Personally, I’ve had enough tense family dinners to last me the rest of my life, but if you’d like to sit in on another one, this is an intriguing film that explores the ridiculousness of influencer culture and masculinity while telling a gripping and brutal story.

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