Is Barbarian (2022) Based on a True Story?

‘Barbarian’ is a horror film about Tess Marshall, a young woman who travels to Detroit, Michigan, for a job interview. However, she finds her life under threat after sharing a rental home with a mysterious stranger. The movie is written and directed by Zach Cregger. The scary and heart-pumping film has a unique narrative that examines the threats modern women may face under challenging circumstances. Therefore, despite the horror elements, viewers relate to Tess’ plights. Moreover, the story takes some dark and surprising turns leaving viewers baffled. Hence, viewers must wonder whether the movie is based on actual events or true stories. In that case, here is everything you need to know about the inspiration behind ‘Barbarian.’

Is Barbarian a True Story?

No, ‘Barbarian’ is not based on a true story. The film is based on an original script written by Zach Cregger. The movie’s premise is rooted in Tess’ ill-informed decision to share a rental home with a mysterious stranger. However, it soon becomes evident that the stranger cannot be trusted. As a result, Tess is forced to face some inexplicable events that threaten her life. In an interview, Cregger opened up about the conceptualization of the film’s story. He revealed the idea originated from the non-fiction book ‘The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence’ written by Gavin de Becker. The book teaches individuals to recognize their gut instinct to protect themselves from dangerous situations.

Cregger stated that the book enlightened him about the challenges women face, and he realized the state of women’s safety. As a result, he was compelled to write a story that tackles the same theme leading to the creation of ‘Barbarian.’ Furthermore, Cregger decided to combine horror tropes with comedic elements to present a dark and twisted perspective on the realistic and relatable theme of women’s endangerment and safety. In an interview with Bloody Disgusting, the writer-director explained his approach to writing the movie.

“It’s all about subverting expectations. It’s all about being a step ahead of the audience, zigging when they expect you to zag, and timing. It’s just timing and tone. That’s the anatomy of a joke; that’s the anatomy of a scare. I do feel like I’ve been working that muscle group out for a long time through comedy,” Cregger stated about the film’s visual style and storytelling. Cregger said that while writing, he did not outline the story. Instead, he followed the narrative like an audience and did not comply with a structure allowing a compelling blend of horror and comedy.

In the same interview, Cregger cited classic horror films such as ‘Audition’ directed by Takashi Miike, and director Sam Raimi’s ‘Evil Dead II’ as an influence on the film. Actor Justin Long who plays AJ Gilbride in the film stated in an interview that he found the writing natural and dialogs relatable. As a result, Long was able to form a human connection with the fictional characters despite the borderline fantastical setting of the narrative.

Ultimately, ‘Barbarian’ is a fictional story that is rooted in modern conflicts that women face while navigating the world alone. However, the film uses horror tropes in an inventive fashion to tell a fresh story. Moreover, it uses subtle comedic moments to make some poignant social commentary. Hence, the story feels relatable but mostly belongs in the world of fiction and has little semblance to reality.

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