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The Scarily Subversive Design Hidden in Barbie’s Dreamhouse

The Barbie movie has a dark horror tribute to the bates motel.

As a writer for Horror Facts magazine, I was overjoyed to discover the subtle influences from classic horror films woven into the production design of “Barbie.” On the surface, the movie may seem to be all sugar, spice, and everything nice – but a deeper exploration reveals the delightfully freaky details hidden in the doll’s world.

The design for Weird Barbie’s kooky mid-century modern mansion clearly takes inspiration from the iconic slanted staircase in Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal thriller “Psycho.” The off-kilter angles and cotton-candy pastel colors create a surreal, demented vibe – like Barbie took a weekend getaway to the Bates Motel’s gift shop and never wanted to leave.

As a horror buff, I got goosebumps spotting how the film’s production design slyly references spine-tingling classics. Other creepy details abound in Weird Barbie’s eccentric domain. A massive hidden cat sculpture playfully contrasts the petite scale of the surroundings. An ambulance gets a bubblegum pink makeover to match the home’s offbeat aesthetic. The neon painted shark lurking in the pool adds a sinister sensation that something frightening is hiding just below the perfect plasticine world.

Scary Barbie Toy 2023

While on the surface “Barbie” shimmers with glitter, glamour and all things girlie, the production design subtly sprinkles in nods to horror touchstones in twistedly fun ways. It’s this clever contrast – the sunshiny exterior concealing sinister surprises – that makes the movie so thrillingly entertaining for fright fans like myself.

The domains of both heroes and villains further play with this theme. The stark minimalism of Ken’s takeover “Kendom” presents the ideal contrast to Barbie’s cotton-candy colored queendom. Cold white walls, inky black accents, and gleaming metal come straight from the haunted house visual playbook. Ken’s regimented reign becomes frightening in its own way, channeling dystopian thrillers.

For fellow aficionados of frights, keep your eyes peeled for these creepy winks and flourishes when exploring Barbie’s world on the big screen. While outwardly showcasing feminine energy, the setting’s subtle spine-tingling touches make “Barbie” surprisingly suited for viewers like me who live for a good scare.

Director Greta Gerwig clearly reveled in weaving light and dark, perfection and eccentricity, comfort and fear into the cotton-candy coated nightmare that is Barbieland. As a horror buff, it thrills me to see our beloved genre leave its mark across the doll’s dreamworld. For fright fans, “Barbie” has plenty to offer behind its pretty pink exterior.

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