The less said about Barbarian before you watch the film, the better – this is one wild ride best experienced without spoilers.

But if you’ve seen the trailer, you already know the setup: Tess (Georgina Campbell) arrives at her Airbnb one night, only to find it already occupied by Keith (Bill Skarsgård). Despite the red flags, Tess winds up agreeing to share the place for the night. Then, while exploring the home, she finds a hidden tunnel behind a wall in the basement.

I think many of us can agree that’s a big ol’ NOPE moment. (Those of us most likely to survive a horror movie, anyways.) But what about Barbarian writer/director Zach Cregger? If he was in the same situation, would he tap out?

“I would have bounced pretty quick I think,” Cregger told THS. 

“Although, I don’t know…” he reconsiders. “I would have behaved the way Keith behaves. I would have been like, ‘There’s a room? I’m gonna go look at it.’ You know? ‘I’ll see for myself!’ Like that’s a very “man” sort of an attitude. And I have to confess, that’s my attitude.”

So, there you have it. Cregger can craft a twisty, terrifying film – but if you put him into the movie, he’d be the character that leaves the audiences yelling at the screen in frustration.

Tess (Georgina Campbell) pulls a rope opening a secret basement tunnel in 'Barbarian'

During the press conference for Barbarian, Cregger revealed the initial idea for the film came to him when he read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.

“There was a chapter in the book that was really primarily directed towards women, and he was encouraging women to pay attention to these little minor red flags that men can give off in day-to-day situations. They can be very innocuous things that you might not notice. Things like complimenting you when it’s not necessarily appropriate or doing you a favor that you didn’t ask for or touching in a nonsexual way that’s not initiated by you. All these little things that seemingly don’t matter, but he was basically saying the gift of fear, it’s important to pay attention to these little red flags because you’re equipped with that to identify potential threats.

As I was reading it, I just kind of had this epiphany that I don’t ever have to think about that kind of a thing, because I’m a man and because I have this level of privilege where I just don’t have to consider that half the population might be somebody that means to do me harm for no reason. I just realized I occupy a completely different psychic landscape than most women do. It was kind of a big moment for me,” said Cregger.

Check out our full interview with Cregger below to learn more about his process for creating Barbarian.

Barbarian premieres in theaters September 9.

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