Barbarian keeps the audience guessing, but many questions are left unanswered, like what did Frank do to his victims and why did he choose his ending?
Spoiler Alert: This post contains spoilers for Barbarian
Content Warning: The following contains discussions of sexual violence and suicide.
Barbarian took audiences on a ride but left some unanswered questions about the film’s true barbarian. While The Mother looked like the traditional movie monster, the true barbarian isn’t revealed until the third act in a flashback that introduced Frank. Frank (Richard Brake) was a previous owner of the home and committed truly horrendous acts inside the walls. Barbarian doesn’t give a lot of information but revealed just enough to see how Frank committed his crimes and got away with it.
The flashback showed Frank following a young woman home and then dressing up as an electrician to get inside her home. Once inside, he unlocked the bathroom window to be able to get inside later. Frank does this in a monotonous, seamless way that indicated he has done this many times before. The number of tapes that AJ (Justin Long) found also indicated he had many victims and this short flashback showed how he got away with it for so long. The flashback ended with Frank entering his basement to a woman’s screams. While the flashback is brief, it was essential to understand the true villain of the film and how he could get away with his crimes for so long.
Why Frank Was The Real Villain Of Barbarian
In the first act of Barbarian, The Mother seemed to be the villain. While she killed Keith, she was a victim of Frank’s cruelty and only knew abuse. In addition to the women, Frank was also abusing the children according to the homeless man Tess encountered, meaning The Mother was a product of deep incest, seemingly his daughter and granddaughter. Frank created the conditions that allowed The Mother to commit disturbing acts. The Mother just wanted someone to be her baby and got angry when people didn’t fulfill that role, a rage she likely witnessed from Frank when she or other women misbehaved. The plethora of tapes that AJ found shows that Frank had routinely sexually abused women and filmed it for many years. The dirty cages in the basement also suggested that he trapped the victims who probably died from neglect. The Mother was deprived of affection and only knew the horrors that Frank inflicted on her and others.
Why Suicide Was The Only Option For Frank In Barbarian
Towards the end of Barbarian, AJ found Frank who was bedridden and non-verbal. Likely Frank didn’t have much time left, but AJ’s discovery of his lair led him to make the decision to end his life. AJ saw the tapes and threatened to call the cops. While AJ berated him and called him sick, Frank likely didn’t kill himself from guilt but fear that his secret would finally be revealed. He shot himself to avoid the consequences of not only his sexual crimes but the creation and actions of The Mother. In Frank’s mind, he figured suicide was the only way to solve the horrible predicament he placed himself in. Through the character of Frank, Barbarian compared the film’s true barbarian to the victim who was mistaken for the monster.