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Barbarian's Justin Long Doesn't Want You To Forget The Movie's True Villain

"Barbarian" has become one of the pleasant surprises of the Fall movie season. With an independently-financed $4 million budget, the movie has grossed nearly $40 million worldwide in the month since its release (via Box Office Mojo). Ostensibly an Airbnb horror film about a young woman (Georgina Campbell) and a man (Bill SkarsgÄrd) who double-book the same rental, the film's scares morph into something completely different in each act.

Across social media, viewers implore others to go in cold, without reading or watching anything else about the film beforehand. With plenty of twists and turns throughout, maximum enjoyment of the movie's thrills comes from knowing very little of what's to come. Being hailed as the "WTF Movie of the Year," writer/director Zach Cregger's twists and turns do not disappoint.

Yet, one question audiences might come away with is who is the true "barbarian" of the title. Without giving much away, there are a handful of individuals who might be considered the film's villain. Justin Long, who plays AJ Gilbride, the owner of the rental, expressed his own opinion on the matter.

Justin Long thinks his own character is one of the true villains of Barbarian

In an interview with Vulture, Justin Long discussed the despicable character he plays. Introduced in the second act of the movie, AJ Gilbride is a Hollywood actor recently accused of rape by one of his co-stars. With the legal fees taking a substantial hit on his finances, he returns to his Detroit rental property to initiate its liquidation. Yet, he finds a basement of horrors, including The Mother, a female mutant monster who was the product of years of incest and rape at the hands of the house's previous owner, Frank (Richard Brake).

When asked who he thought the actual monster was in "Barbarian," Long responded that he thought his and Brake's characters were the true villains. "I think it's men. It's whoever is the invader, right? Whoever the barbarian is is the one who invaded somebody's safe space. And, in Mother's case, it was obviously her father," he told the outlet.

"AJ did a barbaric thing by being invasive without her consent. The real barbarian was probably my character and Richard Brake's Frank character," he elaborated.

Justin Long appreciated how the movie addresses men being accountable for their wrongdoing

Unsurprisingly, "Barbarian" is being discussed in the realm of other socially-conscious horror films. On paper, The Mother might be the movie monster, but only in the most superficial sense, considering the years of abuse she endured. "[The] Mother, who you think is the monster, is becoming a lot more sympathetic and, by the end, is quite sympathetic," Justin Long told Vulture.

In a discussion with GQ about the film, Long discussed his character in more detail, particularly the final act and how the film refuses to redeem AJ. "You think there's gonna be redemption for AJ, and the character does something really revealing. There's a true moral litmus test and he fails ... It explores some of the performative nature of these apologies, and it addresses what true accountability is. AJ is truly selfish," he explained.

For Long, the movie engages in a broader conversation about punishment and justice for men who commit terrible acts on others, especially women. "What is appropriate in terms of punishment and how do we mete out that kind of justice? It's an important conversation to be having, so I hope it adds to it, but I loved exploring somebody who is that narcissistic, that incapable of real accountability," he said.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).