Are you looking forward to a brand new haircut? What is it going to be: bangs, a different colour, curls, etc. Whatever it is, we hope you won’t get it done by hairstylist Claire from “The Stylist”. Not only because you might not get the haircut you want but also because you maybe not make it out of the barber’s chair.
If you already want to have a look at what your new hair could look like, then watch “The Stylist” from writer/director/producer Jill Gevargizian. You will have the chance to experience a visit to the hairdresser from a different perspective and to see a unique, delightful and enjoyable psychological horror movie.
During our interview, Gevargizian mentioned that this movie’s inspiration came from her time as a hairdresser and her love for horror. That inspiration was the beginning of a very well-made film. Claire (Najarra Townsend) works as a hairstylist and is incredible at her job. When you go to the hairdresser, you know that they will do the best thing with your hair and during the cut, you’re not afraid to talk about what’s going on in your life. That’s exactly what happens in Claire’s hair salon. Her clients spill their deepest secrets, thanks to which the rather lonely and shy Clair becomes part of their lives for a brief moment.
So while Clair seems the average hairdresser, she has one dark obsession: Once in a while, she kills and scalps her female clients, who are extremely successful. To make herself feel that popular, she wears their hair when she’s alone in her apartment (which looks more like a bunker, though). Things become even more exciting (but also complicated at the same time) when Claire is invited by Olivia (Brea Grant) to do her hair for the upcoming wedding. For Claire, this is the perfect opportunity to get a new client and to be part of a glamorous social circle. However, we all know that with success and fame, jealousy and hatred come, and in this case, a murderous hairstylist too.
If this story sounds a bit familiar, then you either have the same vivid imagination as Gevargizian, or you’ve seen “The Stylist” in 2016 when it was released as a short movie. When watching the full-length feature film, it’s understandable why Claire’s story needed much more screen time.
The main elements that make “The Stylist” a pleasure to watch are the style (sorry, no pun intended) and the overall vibe the movie creates. While the film was made with an indie budget, it doesn’t become one of those horror movies in which the visuals are mediocre because of the lack of funding. On the contrary. From the set design (especially the beautiful hair salon and the eery bunker-like home) to the dim lights (which danger and violence of Claire) to the beautiful and perfectly fitting costumes (whether it’s the stunning wedding dress or Claire’s everyday working clothes), it’s all spot on. Congratulations to the entire team for their eye for stunning detail, which certainly convinces you the low budget doesn’t mean low quality.
When it comes to details and bringing the whole hairstylist/murderer perfect to life, praise needs to go to lead actress Townsend (“Portal”, “Diverted Eden”). Before shooting, she didn’t have any experience as a hairdresser, and when watching the movie, you wouldn’t believe that for a second. The way she stands behinds the chair, the movements that come with the hairdresser job and the scalping of her on-screen clients are extremely convincing. The story itself is basic, but that does allow Townsend to give her twist and personality to the character. She even succeeds in making the audience feel connected with Claire, especially when it comes to the shyness, the need for personal connection and wanting to be in the spotlight for once. Ok, we’re not sorry for her murderous side, but at least there’s a human aspect you can relate to.
Yes, this film certainly has flaws such as the slow pace in the second part and the unremarkable performances by the supporting cast. However, you still have to put this movie on your to-watch list. “The Stylist” is the perfect continuation of the short film because of the stunning performance by Townsend, the superb attention to detail and the simple but effective storyline.
“The Stylist” is available on ARROW from the 1st of March. You check the full interview between Liselotte Vanophem and writer/director/producer Jill Gevargizian here.