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In Barbarian, Frank seems to be bedridden. And while The Mother is able to get out, she doesn't seem to have sufficient intelligence to get food and water.

(The Mother is depicted as more animal than human, moving around completely naked and believing that her captives are her babies. She is able to babble but not communicate or understand much more than that.)

So, how did all of them in the basement get food and water over the course of decades or at least in the recent past since whenever Frank became bedridden?


Note also that they live in a completely deserted neighborhood (all homes around are in advanced state of decay), so there doesn't seem to be any possibility of stealing food from homes nearby.

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You might be underestimating The Mother’s intelligence and capability of getting food and water. She demonstrates some degree of intelligence by being able to track down Tess and AJ at the water tower and catching them off guard. She must have some rudimentary intelligence and knowledge of the surrounding area to locate food and water for herself and Frank.

Frank has a way of communicating with The Mother through a pull string near his bed (with a bell attached), which he can use to signal when he needs food or water. The camera focuses on the bell and the pull string to reveal that it is their means of communication. (Otherwise, it would be irrelevant to show this to the viewer.)

screencap of scene focusing on bell attached to pull string screencap of scene focusing on bell attached to pull string

screencap of scene focusing on the pull string

Note also that they live in a completely deserted neighborhood (all homes around are in advanced state of decay)

Regarding the neighborhood, we don’t know if it’s all completely deserted. We only get a glimpse of a few houses, which could be unmaintained rather than abandoned. (For all we know, some of them could be like AJ’s house.) There are also people nearby, like Andre at the water tower, and a gas station that’s within walking distance. The police officers' reaction to Tess calling them also seems like they’re used to getting calls from this area, suggesting that there are people in the vicinity, but the police don’t care about them.

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  • She must have some knowledge of the surrounding area in order to feed herself and Frank. > This is begging the question.
    – user101687
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 2:11
  • Frank has a pull string near his bed (attached to a bell), which I presume is how he signals to The Mother when he needs food or water. > This does not explain how Mother gets food or water.
    – user101687
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 2:12
  • she demonstrates some degree of intelligence by being able to track down Tess and AJ at the water tower. > Even if this were more than some purely animal instinct, this still fails to explain how Mother is able to find food in a deserted neighborhood (see my added note).
    – user101687
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 2:13
  • Regarding your assumption of a "completely deserted neighborhood", see my edit. "does not explain how Mother gets food or water" The camera focuses on the bell & the pull string to emphasize that this is how Frank communicates with The Mother. Otherwise, it would be irrelevant to let the viewer know about how they communicate (about the food/water situation). I think you are too quick to assume a plot hole when this can be easily explained by two factors: 1.) The Mother is smarter than you give her credit for. 2.) The area is not completely deserted, and there are some resources close by. Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 3:10
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    @user103496 I see. Anyway, given the evidence, I'm not sure what better explanation there is to: 1.) The Mother being intelligent enough to get food and water. 2.) The neighborhood is not completely deserted, and one can find resources in the vicinity. Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 5:04

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