Why A Barbarian Prequel Wouldn’t Work (But A Sequel Could)

Content Warning: the following article contains discussions of sexual violence.

Spoiler Alert: this post includes spoilers for Barbarian (2022).

A follow-up film to Zach Cregger’s delightfully unpredictable horror film Barbarianseems likely due to its recent popularity and success; a prequel would be the obvious choice given the film’s story and ending, but there are a few key reasons why a prequel wouldn’t work and a sequel actually could. Barbarian thrives on its simplicity of concept: Tess (Georgina Campbell) booked an Airbnb in Detroit for an important job interview, but when she arrives, another renter named Keith (Bill Skarsgård) is already staying there. They agree to a tenuous roommate situation out of necessity, and from there, events take a series of dark twists and turns.


The ending of Barbarian is impossible to predict from this setup. The second act of the film sees Keith brutally killed by a feral, naked woman called The Mother living in tunnels beneath the house, and immediately a new character, AJ (Justin Long), is introduced. AJ is an LA actor and the owner of the Detroit house, and he finds himself rightfully accused of raping his co-star. He ends up in the tunnels as well, trapped with Tess by The Mother, and eventually finds himself face-to-face with Frank, the serial abductor and rapist responsible for the tunnels and The Mother. By the end of the film, Frank has killed himself, AJ is killed by The Mother, and The Mother is mercifully shot by Tess, the only survivor of the nightmarish ordeal.

Alongside the precedent set by Pearl, another of the biggest horror films of 2022 and a prequel itself, Barbarian’s ending suggests aprequel that would follow Frank, the sexual predator who fathered (and likely grandfathered) The Mother, but this simply wouldn’t work. For one, in a recent interview (via The Hollywood Reporter), Cregger said this about a Frank prequel: “I’m personally not interested in making a movie about a man who abducts women… I don’t want to watch that guy for an hour and a half.” So, if this Barbarian prequel happened, it wouldn’t have the original writer/director attached. It also would have none of the twists or comedy of Barbarian, as a story focused primarily on a serial rapist whose end is already known would be neither surprising or funny. Frank’s story has served its purpose and deserves no more attention – but The Mother’s could have more to give.

How Barbarian 2 Could Work

Most of the characters of Barbarian met their end, but a sequel could actually work if The Mother survived her gunshot wound. In the same interview, Cregger joked about this, saying, “She could attend community college and get her learner’s permit and get a Tinder profile…. I’d watch that movie.” Jokes aside, The Mother proved her durability time and again in the film, and it wouldn’t be much of a leap, given the examples set by other horror franchises like Halloween. Barbarian2 would likely be more of a comedy slasher film in this case, with The Mother roaming free through dilapidated Detroit neighborhoods, searching for toxic masculinity to kill and morally upright women to make her new “beh beh” (baby).

While Barbarian could follow in the path of 80’s horror franchises with comedy sequels, for now there are no official plans for a follow-up to Cregger’s hit film. It’s doubtful that a prequel could match the perfect blend of fear, surprise, comedy, and commentary baked into the original, but a slasher sequel involving The Mother has the potential to utilize these elements in a fresh way. Time will tell if The Mother gets her day out in Detroit.

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