Justin Long’s newest horror film, Barbarian, contains many chilling scenes, but there was one in particular he said was cut because it was far too “gross”.
Director Zach Creggers stars alongside Long, Bill Skarsgård, and Georgina Campbell in his thriller-mystery movie about a woman (Campbell) who finds her Airbnb-rented house is weirdly occupied by a stranger (Skarsgård). Against her better judgement, she decides to stay the night only to discover there’s more lurking in the house than just the stranger.
Since its late August release, the film has received critical praise, currently with 92 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Speaking about its success in a recent interview with Vulture, Long explained that there’s a “very thin line between something creepy, unsettling, and potentially cinematic and something that is over-the-top farce – for comical wrong reasons”.
In one scene, Long’s character, AJ, “a grown man”, is seen being breastfed in the dungeon by the Mother (Matthew Patrick Davis).
“There was a moment after that where Mother, because I wouldn’t latch to her breast, she takes a rat – it’s scurrying by – and bites its head off and masticates it and baby-birds it into my mouth,” he recalled.
“Which was in the script, and I knew it was gonna happen. And we shot it right after we shot the breastfeeding scene,” he said. “Zach cut that out. He felt like it was a bridge too far gross-wise.”
He added: “I wouldn’t say I’m a method actor – but it was not the kind of thing I could come in and out of that easily.”
Long further discussed how he managed to stay in the proper “headspace” while filming the breastfeeding scene.
“[Patrick Davis] is the sweetest person. So he was checking in on me between takes, because he saw that I was agitated,” he remembered.
“From behind this grotesque face, he would say, ‘Are you okay?’ Like, really gently. ‘You okay, dude? Do you need anything?’It was odd, so I couldn’t help but laugh. It’s ludicrous.
“Then you realise what we’re doing, and it’s, like, he’s about to shove his prosthetic nipple into my mouth. It all becomes immediately hilarious,” he said.
“It’s such a fine line. I thought it was funny, too, that, without realising it, he was being so naturally maternal. It was a lot. I remember at the end of that day being very exhausted. It’s exhausting doing that stuff.”
Barbarian is out in cinemas now.