the stylist | jill gevargizian | eric havens | eric stolze | najarra townsend | brea grant | sarah mcguire | slasher | drama | united states | jennifer seward | davis derock | millie milan | lindsay solomon | angela dupuie | pepper | timothy english | ashley kukay
Film: The Stylist
Director: Jill Gevargizian
Writer: Jill Gevargizian, Eric Havens and Eric Stolze
Starring: Najarra Townsend, Brea Grant and Sarah McGuire
This was a movie that I heard some buzz about for 2021 watches so it went on a list for me to check out this year. I subscribed to the Arrow player so I figured I would check this out to get my money’s worth over there. I knew this was going to be a slasher type film so that caught my attention as well. The synopsis here is a lonely hair stylist becomes obsessed with the lives of her clients and descends into murderous madness.
For this movie we start out with Sarah (Jennifer Seward) coming into a salon to be worked on by Claire (Najarra Townsend). Through some probing questions, Claire learns that Sarah is from out of town. She’s there for work. Sarah is married with a child, but while she is here, she is cheating on her husband with a guy she met. Claire is taking all of this in and ends up killing this other woman. She scalps her and takes it home. It is there that she puts it on and mimics her.
The next morning Claire gets a text message from Olivia (Brea Grant). Her hair stylist for her upcoming wedding fell through and she wants to know if Claire will help her. Claire is her normal stylist, but for some reason she doesn’t do weddings. It takes her time to debate things, but does eventually agree. Olivia is marrying Charlie (Davis DeRock). We get some interactions that he might be a bit of a jerk and Olivia is independent.
What I like is that we get to see Claire struggles with this decision. She is a regular at a nearby coffee shop and the barista, Dawn (Sarah McGuire), notices. Claire also seems to struggle with perfection and things needing to be done in order. Regardless with her struggles, they do a trial run and Olivia loves it. She invites Claire over that night to show her what it looks like with the wedding dress. The two of them have a good time and this causes Olivia to invite her to the bachelorette party. She overhears some of Olivia’s friends mocking her, which causes her more internal turmoil.
Claire is struggling to keep it together. Having a taste of friendship, she wants to give up her killer side, but when things don’t go as she hoped, she might snap completely. It becomes an interesting look at this young woman who just wants to fit in.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap for the movie. Where I want to start is that this feels to me like an inverse of Maniac. We have a woman as our killer with Claire. The movie isn’t hiding that as we see this right in the beginning. She is scalping her victims like this classic exploitation/slasher. There are past traumas that are causing her to be the way that she, which is similar as well. It isn’t as grimy though. I also like that her past isn’t fully revealed to us and there wasn’t a lot of abuse from what I gather. What it seems more like is that some bad things happened and she’s never gotten over them. Her way of fitting in is killing her victims and in a way, living their lives on a limited basis in her head. I’m glad that we are going minimal here to an extent. Usually there is a revenge factor for women killers in horror where men we can accept it more. How this is set up gives me that.
Despite what I liked there, I do think we need just a bit more. I like that we are given hints and it is throughout the movie. Claire’s father wasn’t around as she grew up. Her mother passed away from an accident when she was 17. She’s been alone since then. We get to see pictures, but the woman she is looking at doesn’t look like her. Is that supposed to be her? Was she to be married? I don’t need things explained to me, but I think with the runtime we get, I needed just a bit more for this to fully work for me. There is a short film that this is based off so I’m wondering if I need to see that, because at this time, I haven’t. There just seems to be one missing piece that completes the puzzle for me.
That isn’t to say that I didn’t like this, because I did enjoy this quite a bit. Where I’m going next is what I think makes this work and that was the acting. Townsend does an amazing job here as someone who keeping it together, but we are seeing her struggle. I like getting this from her perspective. We can see and feel her anxiety, her need for perfection. I like that by paying attention to those around her, they notice she is stressed, but they don’t know her inner turmoil. I like getting to hear these messages from Olivia. I’m assuming this is what is being said, but we are also getting it from the perspective of Claire. She wants to fit in, but she goes too far at times and she doesn’t have her place or her own group. I thought she was amazing if I’m honest.
That’s not to say the rest of the cast around her wasn’t good. They were there to direct Claire to where she ends up. I’m a fan of Grant and I think she does solid here as someone who lets Claire in, but this other woman doesn’t fully understand the boundaries. I like the perspective of DeRock we get as we side with Claire in thinking that he isn’t good for Olivia. It is limited though as he does love her. I like McGuire to help show Claire’s struggles along with Seward, Millie Milan and the rest of the cast to round this out.
Then to wrap this up review, I’ll go to the effects, cinematography and the soundtrack. We don’t get a lot of the former, but we don’t need too much. I think the blood and the look of the attacks is good. It looks to be done practical which makes me happy. The cinematography was well done. I like how they convey things through montages to avoid over explaining. The movie does run a bit long for me though and I think some things could be trimmed. If you’re going to go 105 minutes, I think the missing piece needs to be in there. The soundtrack though works for what they needed and I enjoyed the sound design with showing Claire’s mental issues.
In conclusion here, I ended up enjoying this movie quite a bit. It is a smarter slasher film that feels like a more polished and inverted version of Maniac. The performance from Townsend was great and I thought the rest of the cast worked in directing her to where she ended up. The effects were solid along with how great this was shot. I like what they do with the sound design and the music fit. If I have an issue, it runs too long and it leaves out an explanation as to why Claire is the way she is. I don’t need too much there, but just something to bring what we get to why. I still found this to be good though. I would recommend giving this movie a viewing.
My Rating: 8 out of 10