The Movie Barbarian Explained (Every Question Answered)

Barbarian is a 2022 horror thriller written and directed by Zach Cregger. The film is centred on a house where two people get double booked for a stay in a desolate neighbourhood. The plot is interesting, especially the first half. While the film keeps the chills, it starts losing coherence and leaves a lot of unaddressed questions. Let’s try and answer all of those in this article. Here’s the plot and ending of the 2022 movie Barbarian explained; spoilers ahead.

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Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

Barbarian Movie: Plot Explained

What is the Barbarian movie about?

Barbarian follows two guests at a home who realize they have been double-booked. They later discover a miniature tunnel system beneath the house that houses something monstrous yet pitiful. The underground also holds the reason why the neighbourhood became so rotten.

Who is Frank? What did Frank do?

A couple of decades ago, the house was owned by a guy named Frank, who abducted, imprisoned and raped women in the basement. He didn’t stop there; he even sexually assaulted the children of his victims. It’s a fair assumption that he killed and buried most of his prey somewhere in the lair beneath his house.

In Barbarian, what was on the tapes?

Frank recorded all of his sexual assaults on videotape. We know this from the room with the bed and the old video camera. Each of these tapes is labelled with the names of his victims. Towards the end of the movie, we’re shown proof of this.

Barbarian Movie: What happened to the neighborhood?

Because Frank has been abducting women for a very long time, and the authorities have failed to narrow down on the killer, the residents in the area decide to sell their homes and move to a different locality. But since the place has a bad reputation, it appears that no one could sell their houses, and they were abandoned, making it a ghost town full of dilapidated houses.

The real history of Brightmoor

Brightmoor is an area in Detroit that became heavily abandoned, with thousands of houses up for demolition, particularly around 2010. This happened because of rising crime rates. The movie uses this to weave its own story about Frank.

What happened to Frank?

Once most of the neighbourhood moves out, Frank has no more victims, so he lives the remaining of his miserable life in the basement without any contact with the outside world for decades. We don’t know how he has access to food and water. Perhaps when the house is empty, he surfaces to get the leftovers and go back down.

Who is AJ, and why was that house alone maintained?

AJ is an actor currently being sued for sexual assault. Many years back, AJ bought Frank’s house because it came for a meagre price without knowing any of its history or the tunnels beneath. He has sublet it to an agent to maintain and rent it out on Airbnb and other online portals. So this house being the only one to be well painted and clean is not because of anything supernatural.

Who is Keith?

Barbarian Movie: Who is Keith?

Keith is an artist and is scouring that side of town to buy off an entire block of houses as they are dirt cheap. The film begins with Tess and Keith meeting at a home that has been double-booked. While the audience is given the impression that Keith is up to no good and is going to do something horrible to Tess (like in the movie Fresh), Keith’s actually a straight-up nice guy with a genuine interest in various forms of art.

In the Barbarian movie, why was the Airbnb double booked?

It was a genuine mistake as the house was listed on two online platforms, and both Keith and Tess ended up booking the same place on different portals and were given a confirmed reservation. Again, this wasn’t some supernatural luring of a soul collector.

In Barbarian, who opened the door at night?

At night, Tess’ door opens on its own. This appears to be because it wasn’t shut properly, and multiple doors in the house are poorly hinged and tend to open/close on their own. The one to the basement is another example. I don’t believe the doors are connected to a supernatural phenomenon.

The Basement

At night, Tess hears a faint scream, and Keith is shown to be having a nightmare. The next day goes by typically, but Tess is warned to get out of that neighbourhood by her interviewer. Back at home, Tess discovers a hidden door in the basement with a room that has a bed and an old video camera.

Who was calling Tess from the basement?

Keith calls out to Tess. When Keith returns home, Tess tells him about the hidden door, and he goes down to investigate and finds an underground passage. He goes down, is attacked by something down there, and, in fear, calls out to Tess for help. Tess, being the nice person she is, goes down looking for Keith.

What happened to Keith?

Unfortunately, Keith has his head bashed into a wall repeatedly by a monster and dies. We can assume his body was disposed of somewhere, along with countless other people who died down there. We don’t see him after this in the film.

In Barbarian, what/who is the monster/mother? How was the mother created?

The monster is the descendent of a victim of Frank, who was sexually abused. The victim delivered a baby in the house, and the victim’s daughter was also raped, who finally gave birth to an abomination. We know this from the scene where Frank is in the supermarket looking for baby supplies and says he is going to have a homebirth

As silly plots go, this has to be one of the most ridiculous reasons a film has given for the creation of a superhuman monster. In-breeding once causing a being to be born with super strength and agility is plain lazy. What Andre talks about, “copy of a copy of a copy”, is not really possible, considering the time elapsed, as shown in the film. Frank could have in-bread only one time.

What’s with the milk?

Barbarian: AJ and Tess Held Prisoners By The Monster

This creature has been locked downstairs in a room with a TV that continuously plays a video of a woman breastfeeding her child. This old creature knows only about having a baby and feeding it. Somehow the beast lactates too.

Tess and AJ are trapped in an underground cage and are offered milk in a bottle by the monster. Tess accepts it and is left unharmed, but AJ is taken away forcefully for breastfeeding. Tess uses this opportunity to escape. While the creature tries to stop Tess, AJ runs for it and finds a hidden room.

Barbarian Movie: Who is the old man?

The old man in the bed is Frank, who has aged and has been living underground. He has somehow survived all these years with extremely limited food and water. It would be a far stretch if we needed to assume that Frank, too, developed some kind of supernatural ability to survive like that.

Why does the monster back away when AJ is in front of the room?

We can see that the creature is actually scared and backs away because she’s grown up being constantly abused by Frank, who is the resident of that room. While she has superhuman strength and everything, she’s always known to fear Frank.

Why did Frank kill himself?

Frank sees a human from the world above after a very long time. AJ sees the tapes and turns around to accuse Frank of his heinous crimes against all those women. It looks like Frank has had enough and blows his brains out in that moment of regret because of AJ confronting him.

Why didn’t the police help?

The cops think Tess is a random crackhead trying to break into a house and is coming up with an elaborate story about a monster in a basement that has killed a man and held her hostage. Besides, there is a shortage of units, and the cops are requested to be at another place that has had a shooting.

The Escape

Tess waits in her car till dark for the monster to come out and then drives her against the wall. Tess goes down to get AJ and is accidentally shot by him in the dark. AJ picks up the wounded Tess and heads up, and they both head to Andre’s place. The monster rips Andre apart and chases Tess and AJ to the top of a water tower.

In his desperation, AJ tosses Tess over, and the monster jumps after her. Somehow, despite a short free fall, the creature gets under Tess and cushions her fall. They both survive. 

How does AJ die?

First, the creature hoists him in the air. Then she uses her thumb to plunge into his eyes. Once she’s got a firm grip on the insides of both of his eye sockets, she rips apart his head into two. Looks like AJ was a douchebag and got what was coming to him, with interest and fines. 

Barbarian Movie: Ending Explained: What happens to Tess?

Barbarian Movie Ending Explained

The ending of Barbarian shows us that the monster only wants to care for a baby, as that is all it knows. Tess shoots the creature in the head and walks away else the monster will imprison her for life. She considers Tess to be her baby. The ending is tragic and abrupt because the beast was a victim and lived a hellish life which ended with a bullet between the eyes, which finally frees her.

Tess’ bullet wound seems to have not damaged any vital organs as she walks away, in the end, to look for help. If she makes it, Tess will take up her job offer but will definitely spend more than 3 whole minutes researching the area she is going to be living in.

Barbarian Movie: Other Frequently Asked Questions

Why did Keith have nightmares?

It appears Keith’s nightmares are not connected to the house. He is just someone who ends up moaning through bad dreams. The coincidence of the door opening and his dreams was uncanny, but the film doesn’t appear to suggest it had any supernatural element attached. Yes, he calls for help but not to Tess.

Who is the Barbarian?

Well, the film’s title Barbarian seems to clearly be associated with Frank, whose barbaric activities have made him and his victims hideous creatures lurking in the dark. That said, we also see AJ as the second character associated with the title. Tess could have easily left AJ to die, but she returned for him. In return, AJ threw her off the tower.

Why was the mother so strong?

Honestly, it makes no sense that a one-time in-breeding caused this kind of superhuman strength or speed in an offspring. It’s a weak plot premise and requires suspension of disbelief of significant magnitudes. It would have been a whole lot more believable if Frank was shown to be medically experimenting with his victims.

Did AJ do it? Did he sexually assault his co-actor?

Looks like it. Based on AJ’s character in the film, it appears that he is the kind that would do anything to get his way. When AJ realizes Tess is alive, he builds a false narrative saying she slipped and fell even though we see him clearly throw her over.

Regarding his co-actor, AJ mentions that she initially said no, and his persistence got her to sleep with him, although willingly. The ‘willingly‘ part could be something similar to Tess slipping, a false narrative. Because AJ recommended his co-actor, he probably muscled her into sleeping with him, and she retaliated later on.

And that’s that. What were your thoughts and questions about the plot and ending of the movie Barbarian? Drop your comments in the section below.