Plus, there’s something about Hader’s directing style that’s reminiscent of horror. He often uses anticipatory settings, a signature of the horror genre, to great success. When Sally ran home from work hoping to find Barry at her apartment a few episodes ago, the camera panned to the dark and gloomy spot in the corner of the room as she waited for him to show up. It was a scene that played to our own awareness as an audience that in scenes like this, something always has to show up and fill the empty space. When Hader does so, he plays into our expectations, turning the scene suddenly comical when he responds to Sally’s offer to leave together with a shriek: “Really?”
Hader’s work behind the camera is often smooth and jarring at the same time; “Barry” is excellent for both its clean, precise visuals and its tonal whiplash, and together the two elements make the show often feel scarier than many actual horror movies. As “Barry” nears its end, his already ambitious style has evolved to become more surreal, more intense, and even more impressive. Audiences know next to nothing about Hader’s horror movie idea right now, yet after seeing “Barry,” we’re ready to grab front-row seats to whatever he does next.
“Barry” airs on HBO and HBO Max every Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.