The Stylist (2020)

A hairstylist becomes obsessed with some of her clients’ lives and in this obsession, she sees it fit to do unthinkable things.

Following up on the short of the same name, from a story by Jill Gevargizian, this feature film version is written by Jill Gevargizian, Eric Havens, and Eric Stolze, with Gevargizian directing, this feature manages to expend on the story while keeping its essence fairly intact. The film here takes the story of a killer hairstylist and expends on it, giving her more of a life and more of a reason to kill. Of course, there is some great stuff in there and some not as great stuff, but overall, the story and its exposition make sense and work out. As a horror fan, there is almost a wish for more kills, more blood, but thankfully the kills and their aftermath here are bloody and work for the film. The want for more is probably something coming from always wanting more when the film is fun to watch and does homage others in the right way. This is a giallo on many fronts without fully being a giallo, it clearly is heavily influenced and shares a lot of aspects with the genre while being different enough to be its own thing. Much like with giallo’s the blood is good, but some of us want more.

Returning in the lead, Najarra Townsend does great as she did in the originating short film. Her work is nuanced and powerful, she’s not simply a killer and she is not a completely cold blooded killer. She imbues her character with more, there is something behind her eyes, something that often gets lost in killers on film. Townsend is the star here and she makes it clear that she absolutely should be in more horror films. Playing the interest of her killer spirit is Brea Grant who does great work here as she comes off just the right amount of grating. She makes her character one that is that customer that comes off nice at first and eventually becomes a bit off-putting. This gives her character the right balance of good and bad to make the perfect central victim. It also give Townsend’s Claire more balance in who she is and what she does. These two take complex characters and make them relatable even when they are not exactly great people (either of them really), making the good-bad balance something more complicated, more interesting, with plenty of grey areas, making the film more human and deeper than a lot of giallo homages seen lately.

One of the important aspect to making a film like this one, something the director clearly put in a lot of care and attention to details, is the look of the film. The Stylist feature, much like a short, has a carefully calculated look that is studied and done through a clear understanding of the genre, or sub-genre, it homages on many levels. The design, the style are all Gevargizian, but the cinematography work of Robert Patrick Stern paired with the editing of John Pata bring all of it to life in a beautiful, sometimes even entrancing, way. The film looks stunning in some scenes, like the short did, with truly great visuals that bring something to the story, that bring it all together.

The Stylist isn’t perfect, it has a few issues here and there, but it’s still a must see. It’s a film that shows how a short can be brought to feature in a successful way and make for an entertaining night at the movies.