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'Barbarian' director working on new horror project that is somehow 'way weirder'

What could be weirder than...well, if you know, you know...

By Josh Weiss
Georgina Campbell as Tess in 20th Century Studios' BARBARIAN, exclusively on Hulu.

Zach Cregger's Barbarian opened two very big doors. One leads down to a network of underground tunnels full of untold horrors (if you know, you know). The other opens onto a promising career in Hollywood. Naturally, Cregger has chosen the prize waiting behind Door No. 2. Show the man what he's won! Stellar critic reviews and promising audience word of mouth amplified by social media turned the film into one of the most buzzed-about titles of the year.

A 92 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes paired with $40 million in global box office returns (against an incredibly modest production budget of about $5 million) means that Cregger can pretty much write his own ticket from here on out. That's exactly what the burgeoning filmmaker intends to do as he chips away at two new projects — one of which is "a horror movie" that is "way weirder than Barbarian," the writer-director revealed during an interview with Empire for the magazine's final issue of 2022 (now on sale).

How is that even possible? Cregger refused to give up any specific plot details, though if his debut is anything to go by, his next feature will most likely zig where viewers would expect it to zag. After all, the success of Barbarian lies in its sheer unpredictability and refusal to play by the established genre rules. "I think it's the truth that you probably haven't seen a movie like this," the writer-director said of the movie's profound cultural impact. "It's not a three-act structure. It's going to surprise you, and I can say [that] confidently because it surprised me."

To breathe new life into a well-worn genre, Cregger sought wisdom from one of the most groundbreaking horror filmmakers in recent memory: Jordan Peele. "I went over to his house and he gave me a ton of advice on inevitable issues that I could expect to encounter on my first feature," he recalled. "Then I showed him a cut and he gave me notes. He was very helpful." 

Getting the thing funded and filmed was a challenge unto itself. Landing distribution was another, and Cregger's initial expectations were set pretty low. "I was hoping it was going to get released on a streaming platform and then hopefully people would find it over the next couple of years."

In the end, 20th Century Studios (the relabeled 20th Century Fox owned by Disney) scooped up this strange little gem for a wide theatrical rollout. Cregger describes Barbarian as "a roller coaster that is designed to be seen in a theater," via the official production notes. "If you go to a theater, you will scream, you will laugh, you will have a blast. I’m not saying that you won’t have a good time watching it at home, but you want to go on a roller coaster at a theme park, not on virtual reality goggles. That’s the difference."

Still playing in theaters around the country, Barbarian is also available to purchase, rent, or stream on digital platforms as of this week. This has already been said many times and many ways, but if you have yet to check out the feature, do so right now without checking out any of the promotional materials. The blinder you go into it, the better!

If you're looking for more scares, check out the extensive catalog of horror flicks on Peacock, including Halloween Ends, the last film in David Gordon Green's trilogy.

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