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Writer/Director Zach Cregger spills on Barbarian

Ahead of its cinematic release and a screening at Arrow Video Frightfest 2022, Zach Cragger’s Barbarian is shrouded in mystery.

We caught up with the writer/director to find out more –

What can you tell us about the creation of Barbarian?

I wrote this script on spec and it took me quite a bit of time to get anyone to consider producing it. It’s not clear from the trailer but it’s a really really… strange movie. It doesn’t follow traditional structure, it breaks a lot of rules, and it gets really fucked up. It’s much easier and safer for producers to say ’no’ than ‘yes’ – and with the added issue of me being a first-time director it was a slog to find anyone willing to take the plunge.  We shot it on a shoestring in Bulgaria which was a fantastic experience. I had a great crew and we were able to make our modest budget go a long way. 

The trailer debuted recently and really got horror fans buzzing, how exciting was this?

It’s very exciting and not a little scary to finally let this thing you’ve been working on behind closed doors out into the public stage. It’s like letting go of your childs bicycle and now all you can do is watch and hope they don’t crash. The big fear of the trailer is that you want to hook people without spoiling the movie. This movie has a LOT of twists and turns and is full of spoilers so it was really a balancing act.  Fortunately people seem very receptive so that’s encouraging.  But the movie advertised is really just the tip of the iceberg for what they’ll get in the theater.

What can you tell us about casting the film?

I saw Georgina in Black Mirror and just knew she was the right person for this part. She’s just so natural and lovely and has this energy that allows the audience to hook right into and identify with. Bill Skarsgard is Bill Skarsgard. It’s like the moment you see him you’re like ‘Oh…. shit.’ He has this presence that’s both attractive and horrifying. It’s just what we need. And Justin Long. I’ve just always been such a fan of his. He’s so charming and funny and I thought it would be fun to cast him as someone rotten and despicable. He crushed it.

Was it a coup getting Bill Skarsgard nigh on fresh from the IT movies?

Luckily Roy Lee our producer also produced IT so he sent the script to Bill and Bill responded immediately. We hopped on a Zoom, really liked each other right away and he said yes. It was a big win of course, but it wasn’t like he needed me to twist his arm.

Is there plot threads linked to the #MeToo movement in Barbarian?

Very much so but I think that the less I say about those threads prior to the film’s release the better. I’d rather let the audiences have that discussion on their own.

Being the writer and director, did this allow you more creative freedom?

This movie was so small that I was blessed with near-total creative freedom. Luckily having written it I knew exactly what I wanted to see. I had the advantage of using my year of rejection with the script to obsess over every single page and at night I would literally play the movie in my head as I fell asleep so by the time I was in pre-production there wasn’t anything I didn’t have clearly in mind. 

What do you prefer acting or directing?

Acting is like a vacation. You can show up say some stupid shit and go home. Directing is a never-ending assault. There is no downtime. The pressure is very intense for a long long period. I loved it. 

How much are you looking forward to screening the film at Frightfest?

Cannot wait to hear the screams.

Barbarian screens as part of Arrow Video Frightfest 2022 and will be released in cinemas in August 2022.

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