Barbarian is one of the year’s great mysteries. Aside from a few vague hints in the film’s marketing, nobody really seems to know what’s going to happen before the credits roll. The only definite is this – a woman is forced to confront a rather uncomfortable situation when the AirBnB she booked turns out to be inhabited by a complete stranger. Once she goes inside, all metaphorical Hell breaks loose, in a story crafted by the mind of director Zach Cregger.
During a recent press conference promoting the movie, Cregger detailed how the basic premise came to be. He explained it was a specific chapter in a book that lead him to his original idea:
I had read a book called the Gift of Fear by the security consultant, Gavin de Becker. There was a chapter in the book that was really primarily directed towards women and he was encouraging women to pay attention to these little minor red flags that men can give off in day-to-day situations. They can be very innocuous things that you might not notice. Things like complimenting you when it’s not necessarily appropriate or doing you a favor that you didn’t ask for or touching in a nonsexual way that’s not initiated by you. All these little things that seemingly don’t matter, but he was basically saying the gift of fear, it’s important to pay attention to these little red flags because you’re equipped with that to identify potential threats.Zach Cregger
He continued, elaborating on how the selection grew to become an epiphany:
As I was reading it, I just kind of had this epiphany that I don’t ever have to think about that kind of a thing, because I’m a man and because I have this level of privilege where I just don’t have to consider that half the population might be somebody that means to do me harm for no reason. I just realized I occupy a completely different psychic landscape than most women do. It was kind of a big moment for me.Zach Cregger
It was at this point that Cregger formulated his film, taking the concept of red flags and stretching it into a feature-length script. From there, Cregger claims, the story began writing itself. The creative couldn’t give much more information without entering spoiler territory, but it’s still interesting to hear how a seemingly innocuous book excerpt could spiral into one of the year’s most unexpected movies.
Barbarian hits theaters on September 9th.