Starring Scott Glenn, Chris Coy, Kristen Hager
Directed by Basel Owies
Make no mistake: Scott Glenn has attained the highest levels of bad-assdom throughout the long winding road that has been his career, taking the highest roads as the good guy, and making our skins crawl when playing the heavy. Regardless of whatever role he’s thrown himself into, good or bad, the toughness level of each character has been off the chart, and in his latest thriller, The Barber, I can only testify to his performance as “subdued imbalance.”
Spring-boarded by the first full-feature directorial efforts of Basel Owies, the film takes the simple revenge factor and slows it down to a tense pace, never speeding out of control, and keeping your head into the display at all times, and aside from a few unrealistic situations, the movie more than holds its ground as a strong thriller.
Glenn plays Francis Visser, a convicted serial killer who supposedly ran rampant in the 90’s with the murders of 17 young women, most of whom were found buried alive, and lacking any kind of circumstantial evidence to hold him behind bars, he is set free, and is living a renewed existence in a small town under a new guise, complete with a new name and a steady job as the town’s barber. Leaping back 20-some years, we see the effect of a shoddy investigation, and the police officer responsible for the collar taking his own life when the news of Visser’s release hits the airwaves.
Back to the present day, we’re introduced to John McCormack (Coy) – the son of the cop who offed himself – he’s angry, revenge-driven, and a police officer himself. His game plan is to slide his way into Visser’s life, acting as a wanna-be killer who wishes to learn all the tips and tricks about how to be a more effective murderer, and surprisingly enough, after a short time, Visser takes the bait (not a smart move for a killer trying to move on in life). McCormack becomes the student to Visser’s teachings, following his techniques to a t, and begins to lose himself in the process – the main question in the film here is: to catch a monster, is it absolutely necessary to become that monster? The viewers are the ones who get caught in the middle of a pseudo-power struggle between the two lead figures, and the results are more surprising than you’d think.
Glenn absolutely shines the brightest in his depiction of the deranged killer, and at more than a few moments I’d honestly reserved my thinking to the notion of him simply trying to make a nice, quiet life for himself, and the shuffling, non-cursing elderly soul rapidly dissolved into the Jekyll/Hyde dynamic, and we’d seen entirely another side of the man who managed to fool an entire town. Coy acts as a nice compliment, but never really seemed to get off the deck in convincing me in his path of determination, yet it’s not a massive oversight that needs to be pinpointed. All in all, The Butcher does have its faults, and is far from the perfect, tidy thriller that it could have been, but definitely deserves to be seen to not only remind people, but also to introduce those who may never have heard the name of Scott Glenn…one true bad-ass, any way you slice it.