Story by Jill Gevargizian
Written by Jill Gevargizian, Eric Havens and Eric Stolze
Directed by Jill Gevargizian
The Stylist marks a stunning first full-length feature from Jill Gevargizian. A meticulously written and directed piece that offers not only a finely constructed psycho-drama to propel its narrative, but also some top-notch horror visuals too.
In an equally stunning performance, Najarra Townsend is Claire, the movie’s titular hairdresser. And without pulling any punches, The Stylist sets out its stall before the opening titles have rolled as Claire drugs and scalps an out-of-town walk-in client who simply wanted her roots touched up, rather than removed.
Gevargizian’s effects are wonderful, with the sight and sound of her victim's demise proving almost unbearable to watch - particular credit here to Colleen May’s special make-up. But it is so much more than the ‘hair-raising’ horror of Claire's carnage that makes this movie work, as Gevargizian’s script explores her protagonist’s murderous motives. While Claire’s candlelit lair, complete with rows of mannequin heads sporting previous victims’ locks may be a tad Hollywood kitsch, her deadly-damaged psyche is as credible as that of Joaquin Phoenix’s recent Joker. Claire’s envies, resentments, rejections and neglect are all in plain sight and in one particular killing, where Claire’s craving for the dopamine release that only scalping a victim can deliver, Gevargizian’s understanding of addiction and its associated compulsions is chilling in its accuracy.
Brea Grant plays Olivia, a long-standing client of Claire who is preparing for her wedding amidst a bride’s usual anxieties of making sure that her hair is perfect for the big day. The decline of the women’s relationship is charted through the movie’s 105 minutes, culminating in a devastating and shocking finale.
Tributes abound within the storyline, in a production lovingly filmed around Gevargizian’s home town of Kansas City, Missouri. Indeed, in a truly Hitchcockian moment, the writer/director herself puts in a pulsating cameo that only adds to Claire’s body count.
This is undoubtedly one of the finest horror movies of recent years.