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The Barber Blu-ray Review

The Barber (2015) movie poster The Barber

Theatrical Release: March 27, 2015 / Running Time: 90 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Basel Owies / Writer: Max Enscoe

Cast: Scott Glenn (Eugene Van Wingerdt/Francis Allen Visser), Chris Coy (John McCormack/John D. LaRue), Stephen Tobolowsky (Chief Gary Hardaway), Kristen Hager (Audrey Bennet), Max Arciniega (Luis Ramirez), Olivia Taylor Dudley (Kelli), Tim De Zarn (Capt. Phil Baroni), Richard Steinmetz (Businessman), Valorie Hubbard (Grace), Lydia Hearst (Melissa), Thomas Calabro (Thomas McCormack)

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Scott Glenn has been a part of Hollywood for a very long time. He began acting on television in the late 1960s
and has built a resume of nearly 100 credits over the years. Glenn's considerable experience has earned him respect and steady employment in the industry, but both of those have typically manifested in supporting film roles, some of them assigning him "And" billing, as in "And Scott Glenn."

Glenn isn't rapidly identified for one role or film. He's popped up in many works that many people have seen, including Nashville, Apocalypse Now, The Right Stuff, The Silence of the Lambs, Training Day, and the two most recent Bourne movies. But he isn't a go-to guy for major, iconic directors and I would argue that he'd be difficult for even regular moviegoers under the age of 60 to pick out of a lineup. (Heck, I'll admit that I best know him for resembling an aged Martin Short, something that the future-set frame story of Clifford made clear.)

Glenn seizes a rare opportunity to be leading man in The Barber, a thriller which casts him in the title role. Perhaps inevitably for something with a 74-year-old star, the film received a very limited theatrical release and reaches home video this week, just one month later, essentially unheard of.

The movie opens with a montage establishing Francis Allen Visser as a suspected serial killer believed responsible for the disappearances of 17 Chicago area women in their twenties. With their bodies never found and no convictable evidence tying him to the crimes, Visser disappears, but not before driving the case's lead detective Thomas McCormack to suicide.

In "The Barber", Eugene Van Wingerdt (Scott Glenn) becomes a mentor to John (Chris Coy), a young man who thinks Eugene has a dark, secret past.

Twenty years later, McCormack's twentysomething son John (Chris Coy) is determined to track down Visser. John thinks he's found the elusive figure in Eugene Van Wingerdt (Glenn), an elderly, mild-mannered barber in the sleepy small town of Moraine. John confronts Eugene and stabs him, but the old man asks his friend, police chief Gene Hardaway (Stephen Tobolowsky), not to press charges against his young assailant.

Secretly, Eugene agrees to confess his dark past to John, whose identity is unknown to him. Posing as an admirer eager to learn from Eugene's untraceable malice, John becomes a pupil,
taken under the barber's wing. Eugene teaches the young man how to dress, act, and stalk "birdies" (vulnerable young women). A sordid father-son, mentor-protιgι relationship forms, with each member of the partnership holding some of the cards.

There's probably an interesting movie to be made from this premise, but first-time director Basel Owies and cable-seasoned screenwriter Max Enscoe are not the ones to make it. Enscoe, an alumnus of Disney Channel sequels and lowly basic cable biopics picking up his first writing credit in eight years, insults the viewer's intelligence with every twist and turn he introduces. His script raises so many questions it doesn't answer as it overtly manipulates you in multiple failed attempts to catch you off guard. In the director's chair, Owies is competent, but unable to overcome creative limitations or the detestable air of misogyny with simply a newcomer's zeal.

Resembling a young John Cusack, Coy seems miscast as John, a tough guy who picks up diner waitresses and beats up oversized goons. Glenn, on the other hand, is convincingly duplicitous, but the performance isn't enough to get you to ignore the film's many holes and troublingly patchy logic. The resolution is inevitable and thus unfulfilling, particularly on a movie that is so driven to take you by surprise.

The Barber Blu-ray Disc cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $20.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($20.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Barber looks quite all right in ARC Entertainment's Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 picture is sharp and pristine, while Los Angeles does a passable job of standing in for the sleepy Midwest. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack is consistently potent and crisp, but it showcases the director's unfortunate tendency to punctuate action with overzealous score.

The relationship between John (Chris Coy) and Eugene (Scott Glenn) is further developed in deleted scenes. Chief Hardaway (Stephen Tobolowsky) gets a little more screentime in the Blu-ray's extended scenes section.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Though the case doesn't mention it, The Barber is

joined by a number of video bonus features on Blu-ray, all of them encoded in HD.

First up is an alternate ending (3:19), which only briefly departs from the film's actual ending.

Four deleted scenes (1:42, 2:22, 2:18, 3:11) provide more of the Eugene-John relationship, including elaboration upon their climactic shared Thanksgiving.

Two extended scenes give us more of Audrey (Kristen Hager) (1:39) and Chief Hardaway (1:31) at work in their respective law enforcement jobs.

Finally, we get The Barber's theatrical trailer (2:20).

The disc-opening trailers promote Something Wicked, Zarra's Law, and RPG: Real/Playing/Game. None of these are accessible by menu.

The Blu-ray's menu offers a loudly scored basic montage of film clips. The disc doesn't support bookmarks, but does kindly resume playback of unfinished video.

The insert-less keepcase is topped by a glossy cardboard slipcover.

Scott Glenn IS The Barber.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The intrigue in the premise of The Barber gets lost in this low-budget thriller's preference to surprise rather than engage. While there's enough of interest to not declare a viewing a waste of time, there's also a much better movie to be made with this concept and Scott Glenn. With a fine feature presentation and a pretty good handful of extras, Blu-ray serves this possible rental well.

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Related Reviews:
Scott Glenn: The Paperboy • Secretariat • Apocalypse Now • Nashville
The Calling • The Factory • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street • The Vanishing • Zodiac
Written by Max Enscoe: Return to Halloweentown | New: Accidental Love • Odd Man Out • U Turn • 88

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Reviewed April 27, 2015.



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