“The Barber” is one of those did-he-or-didn’t-he? thrillers that more readily asks another question, the answer to which is: Yes, they did … make a seriously dumb movie.
The premise is that Scott Glenn’s shuffling, white-haired, small-town barber might be the same man who 20 years ago was suspected by police to be a serial killer. The brash young man (Chris Coy) who shows up at his shop one day certainly believes he is, aggressively pleading to learn a hiding-in-plain-sight murderer’s trade secrets.
Screenwriter Max Enscoe and director Basel Owies — enamored of twists at the expense of logic and character — might as well have made a clip reel of their favorite cat-and-mouse movies, because their fever-pitch story is as tension-free, transparently obvious and ludicrous as they come. It’s the kind of movie in which people need to do incredibly stupid things for the plot’s gears to function, and that has the unintended effect of making every person in the movie seem like a candidate for the Darwin Award.
Meanwhile, Glenn — a normally reliable character actor saddled with an impossible role — simply tossed his standby attributes (crusty, cagey and sinister) into the performance blender. It doesn’t taste good.
MPAA rating: R for violence, language, sexual material.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.