The following contains spoilers for Barbarian, in theaters now.
On the surface, Barbaric started out as a psychological thriller, with Georgina Campbell’s Tess stuck in a Detroit Airbnb with Keith (Bill Skarsgård). However, after warming him up and realizing he wasn’t a serial killer, strange happenings started making the house seem haunted. This led to Keith disappearing into the catacombs below and Tess attempted to save him.
It turns out that a monster lived there, known as the Mother. She ended up snatching Tess after murdering Keith, but luckily the owner of the house, AJ (Justin Long), arrived. He got involved, wandering below to restructure the property’s valuation. This development then created one of the most chaotic acts of all time in the horror genre, warping the concept of who the monster really was.
What was the purpose of the mother in Barbarian?
Flashbacks showed the house’s first resident, a sick man named Frank. Decades before, he kidnapped women, took them to the catacombs and filmed the assaults. Mother was the product of years of incest, evolving into a creature similar to the killers of The hills Have Eyes. But rather than wanting all of her victims dead, she hoped that Tess and AJ would be her children in captivity.
He connected to a babysitting VHS tape playing in the room. Frank brought this home in the past, hoping it would teach his victims how a mother was supposed to breastfeed and take care of children. He left it there for all those daughters and wives over the years, never predicting that one would rise up and become a mutant. Fortunately, Tess managed to escape after her mother took AJ and forced him to breastfeed.
What happened to Tess in Barbarian?
Tess took this opportunity to climb out of her hole and run outside through the basement window. Luckily, she was pulled out by the homeless man she ran away from earlier in the film, Andre. He then gave her much-needed insight into Frank’s history. Frank had embraced how the neighborhood became abandoned, and everyone left, which allowed him to build this empire down there.
However, André warned that when night fell, Mother could go out hunting. This still didn’t stop Tess from returning, as she wanted to save AJ, thinking he was a good guy. This culminated when Tess jumped into her jeep, rammed her car with her mother and slammed her against the wall. Tess then returned to the catacombs, hoping to find AJ.
What happened to AJ in Barbarian?
When Mother first ran after Tess, AJ escaped, getting lost in the maze. He ended up finding Frank in a vegetative state, not realizing he was a pervert. AJ gave him some water and pulled out a drawer with medicine next to the man, only to find the stash of snuff movies Frank made. And AJ was upset because they reminded him of his own case back home.
Surprisingly, Frank pulled out a gun, but rather than kill AJ, he killed himself. Frank wanted out of this hell because it was clear that he was being punished for all the abuse he had inflicted. However, when AJ fled, he accidentally shot Tess in the dark. This disaster led him to try to get her out of the house, only to find that Mother was no longer in front.
What happened to André in Barbarian?
Tess and AJ crawled to Andre’s hold, where he let them know they had to wait until morning. Andre was convinced that Tess wouldn’t bleed, but AJ was adamant that he had to go with her. He didn’t give them all the details of his assault charges, but he clearly didn’t want to be the reason another woman’s life was ruined after her sinister acts in Hollywood.
Unfortunately, when Andre joked that after so many years of living nearby, Mother had never entered his fort, she rushed him from behind. Mother overpowered André, ripped off his arm and beat him to death with it. It proved that when she thought her family was going to be kidnapped, Mother could go into berserker mode and kill anyone. She then gave chase, wanting the duo back.
Did Mother die in Barbarian?
Mother chased AJ and Tess into a water tower, but AJ immediately became selfish again. He left an injured Tess to climb the steps alone, only to drop the gun when Mother ran. At this point, he needed a miracle, so he threw Tess away, betting if Mother would jump up and catch her. And she did, cushioning the fall.
AJ ran downstairs, grabbed the gun and tried to take Tess away. He was relieved that she was alive, but clearly if she was dead he wouldn’t care because all he wanted was to slow Mother down or distract the mutant. Surprisingly, Mother stood up in a fit of rage for what he had done to Tess. She saw him as the ultimate aggressor, just like Frank, and proceeded to rip his skull apart, worsening the film’s statement about what toxic men deserved.
Barbaric ended with Mother realizing she had nothing left, begging Tess to come home. Tess, however, had the gun in her hand and held it in front of a docile mother’s head. She blew her brains out and returned to society. It was bittersweet because while Tess lived, Mother’s story was quite sympathetic. She never had an agency and was a victim of circumstances, becoming this prisoner who suffered for decades. Still, Tess wanted out because she had a new job waiting for her in town. So, there was no way she would let Mother take her back or hurt anyone else.
To see how Tess beats Mother, Barbarian is in theaters now.