Barbarian, an inventive new horror film from the mind of Zach Cregger, continues the longstanding tradition of giving spooky movies a one-word title. From Us to It to Misery, there are countless mononymous thrillers with a whole lot of meaning packed into only a few syllables. Ever since Barbarian was announced, internet sleuths have done their best to crack the code and figure out just how the title relates to the plot. However, according to the director, they may never truly get an answer.
In an exclusive interview with Murphy’s Multiverse, Cregger was asked if he could break down exactly how his latest directorial effort found its name. The creative, who also wrote the film, began by stating he enjoyed the mystique of not giving a direct answer. Luckily, Cregger did decide to explain the moment “Barbarian” was selected as the project’s label and how that impacted the movie going forward:
I think it’s an intriguing title. I like the idea that when the movie is over it could inspire a debate as to what it’s referencing. There’s been a lot of theories online about how I probably landed on it. None of them are especially accurate. [laughs] Truth be told, I had to name the document something when I saved it the first time. I was writing the script and I had to write something to save it, or it was going to be called ‘Untitled Screenplay’, and so I wrote ‘Barbarian’ and then I got attached to it. Then the more I wrote… maybe the movie just sort of wrapped itself around that title. I’m really happy with it. I think it’s the right title, but it is mysterious.Zach Cregger
After it was pointed out that most of the film takes place at 476 Barbary St., which feels like a potential play on the movie’s title (“Bar-bar-y-an”), Cregger conceded that might have been done on purpose. He elaborated, giving his most solid answer:
I think that was probably what I was thinking. The first time I started writing, I named the street “Barbary Street”. So that probably was in my head. Like ‘Barbarian’, an inhabitant of this place.Zach Cregger
Barbarian hits theaters on September 9th.