The Most Disgusting Scene In Barbarian Was Cut

"Barbarian" spoilers follow.

"Barbarian" features a number of scenes best described as "disturbing." Whether it's seeing Bill Skarsgård's head getting smashed in by a giant, naked woman or something as quiet as a man flipping the latch on a woman's window to break into her home later, the movie does not pull any punches when it comes to depicting distressing material. That's what makes "Barbarian" such an adrenaline shot in the arm. The film throws so much at you that it becomes a cacophony of beautiful chaos. It makes tonal changes you do not see coming and shows you things you have never seen before.

Well, as it turns out, there was one punch they did pull. Writer/director Zach Cregger decided to scrap one particularly gnarly scene that would have had loads of people in the audience audibly yelping and squirming in their seats. While it would have contributed greatly to the gross-out factor of "Barbarian," it was a bridge too far that didn't need to be crossed.

Those who have seen the film are familiar with the scene in which Justin Long's disgraced, egomaniacal actor character AJ refuses to drink from the baby bottle from Mother (Matthew Patrick Davis). She then takes him and attempts to breastfeed him directly. That is already outrageous enough, but originally, that scene was to go in a slightly different direction. Mother was going to have a different tactic to feed Justin Long, and it was not going to be milk that he was eating.

Baby-birding Justin Long

There are other ways that mothers in nature feed their children. As humans, we are quite familiar with breastfeeding. But what about birds? Well, mother birds have a method of chewing up food for baby birds and depositing that food directly into their child's beak from their own. If you were to see a human being do this for another human being, you would be rightfully disgusted. Well, that is exactly what Mother was going to do to Justin Long in "Barbarian." At a Q&A for the picture at FrightFest [via Dexerto], Zach Cregger detailed the cut scene:

"We cut a scene where he refuses to latch, and so she snatches up a rat, chews it up, and baby-birds him ... We filmed it perfectly, Justin was such a good sport. Matthew – who plays the Mother – really masticated this prosciutto, and dropped it direct, bullseye into his mouth. It was pretty gross."

In a film filled with moments designed to make you writhe around in discomfort, this scene would have ranked high, if not at the very top. Food regurgitation on its own is enough to whip an audience into a frenzy, but when that regurgitation goes into another person's mouth, that defies so many ideas of health and hygiene. You might be regurgitating yourself in the theater if you see something like that. However, Zach Cregger cut the scene. While this spares the audience from something gross, it also helps keep the tension and the unknown the top priorities.

The right decision

For as monstrous and seemingly otherworldly Mother is, she is still very much a human being, which the third act hammers home. This is a person born into an unimaginably horrific circumstance, a person who fundamentally does not understand how she is affecting the lives of the people who find themselves coming into that secret underground lair. Having her feed Justin Long as if she were a bird would completely break her humanity. After all, nothing is more human than breastfeeding, and considering the circumstance, that image of an adult man being forcibly breastfed is enough.

Zach Cregger also didn't want to oversaturate "Barbarian" with Mother. He took that lesson from "Jaws," which is famous for how little it actually shows the killer shark that serves as the film's monster. He goes on to say in that FrightFest Q&A:

"We realized that it couldn't stay in the movie because you don't want to see the shark too much ... And there's no way to show that without getting really up close, and it was just not appropriate yet, so it had to go."

The more you see Matthew Patrick Davis covered head to toe in old woman prosthetics, the less likely you are to be scared of that character. At a certain point, it becomes silly, and you need the constant tension of Mother for "Barbarian" to be effective. Cutting the baby-birding scene was absolutely the right move. The scene may have gotten a wild audience reaction and added to the film's mystique of being a crazy time in the theater, but dramatically speaking, it would not have served much. Killing your darlings can be difficult, but for the best final film, it is necessary.