Entertainment Earth


The Stylist (Review)

Director: Jill Gevargizian 
Writers: Jill Gevargizian, Eric Haven, Eric Stolze
Cast: Najarra Townsend, Brea Grant, Davis DeRock, Sarah McGuire, Jennifer Seward, Millie Milan
Year: 2020
Min: 104

Claire (Najarra Townsend) is a hair-stylist, who we learn from the opening scene, has a propensity for scalping women and taking their hair to keep and wear for herself. This despite, the fact, that she is gorgeous and has beautiful, long, red-hair (which I would imagine many would kill to have themselves) of her own. One of her customers, Olivia (genre favorite Brea Grant), asks her to do her hair for her own wedding. Even though, Claire doesn't do wedding hair, she ultimately agrees to doing it.

Olivia begins to treat Claire as a friend, in gratitude for her amazing work with her hair-do. And, even invites her to her home and then to her bachelorette party. This makes Claire try to hold back her impulse to kill. But, as her mind cracks, this isn't helped by her overhearing two of Olivia's friend talking shit about her being creepy, It doesn't take long for her to go back to her murdering ways. She, in particular develops an obsession with Olivia, or more precisely with the life she leads. 

The Stylist is the feature length directorial debut of Missouri filmmaker Jill Gevargizian (a hair stylist, herself), after cutting her teeth a bunch of short movies. These include the excellent short, of the same name and also starring Townsend in the title role, which inspired this movie. This flick is a slasher film, but one with a clear female point of view and with a far more dramatic side than is usual. This helps to make it more of a psychological character study of Claire.

Gevargizian is an incredible filmmaker, who as this film shows, has style to spare. The movie is absolutely gorgeous, as I adored the colors it has. The movie really pops visually, especially on the recent, phenomenal Arrow Blu-Ray release. She has a real eye for beauty, with scenes being gorgeously lit. She also very effectively uses split screen in ways that would make Brian De Palma, himself, jealous. Aside, from the aesthetic aspect, she also really knows how to build tension. One of my favorite scenes, in the movie, is a great example of this. In it, Claire hides from a potential victim, whose house she has entered. I was felt myself get very tense as I watched this moment unfold.   

Another thing of beauty is the score. Nicholas Elert's music for the film fits it like a velvet glove. There are some tracks that give the movie a serene feeling that makes it all the more captivating. The soundtrack can also be chilling and creepy as fucking hell. In all, this is one of the best I have heard in a horror movie, all year. On a side note, that aforementioned Blu-Ray provides us with the soundtrack on CD, which is a very welcome bonus. 

Thanks to both the script, which Gevargizian co-wrote along with Eric Haven and Eric Stolze, and the phenomenal acting of the cast, there is some great character interactions. It all feels very natural and real. One great example, is the kill at the start of the movie. Before Claire offs this lady, whose hair she is doing, the talk they're having feels believable. It give us great insight into Claire, and what she feels when she talks with her customers. It's between its beautiful style, characterizations, and female leanings, that it sets itself as a stark contrast from the similar, in murderous methods and antagonist centralized story, to William Lustig's grimy and sleazy, masterpiece Maniac. And, really it further adds to this movie's brilliant ability to stand out, on its own. 

Najarra Townsend is phenomenal as Claire. There is something very likable about her. Her portrayal has an awkwardness, mixed with creepiness that really helps her stand out as, not just a horror antagonist, but as an overall character. Moments of genuinely heartbreaking sympathy add a deepness not regularly found in other character driven serial killer movies like this. There is one scene she has with Olivia towards, the end, that I felt very sorry for her. This is despite me knowing of her clear insanity. I very much liked how I can feel terrible for her, one minute, yet later be disturbed by her behavior. Then, there are her outfits, her make-up and hair, and her own, natural beauty, all of which makes Claire so enthralling. Brea Grant, as Olivia, is her usual wonderful self, helping to make the character feel like a very real person. Keep your eyes peeled for Gervargizian, herself, who has a pretty fun cameo, where she wears a T-shirt of the ass kicking horror flick The Ranger. 

The Stylist is a beautiful, stylish, and, at times, haunting flick. It features strong performances from both leads, especially Townsend as our main character and killer. It honestly, might be my favorite bit of acting in a horror movie this year. Director/ co-writer Gervargizian has incredible and immense talent, giving us a flick that is breathtaking to look at. It is without a doubt the most beautiful genre film, I've seen this year. But, it isn't all just pretty to look at, as she has given this flick heart and psychology to make it really stand out among its competition. To put it quite bluntly, this might just be the best horror film of 2021, or at least very damn fucking close to it.