The Stylist is a new horror movie released by Arrow Video about a hairstylist who goes on a rampage of cutting people’s scalps off. It’s a case of a movie that was clearly based on a short, becoming the director Jill Gevargizian’s first full feature. It has the issues that many shorts-turned-features have, that not every short can be a successful feature (not everyone is George Lucas or Billy Bob Thornton).
The titular stylist is an awkward, lonely person with no friends, something that I Blame Society does much better in a similar context (plus, that was a film that actually had something to say.) Njarra Townsend is OK in the lead as hairstylist Claire, although it’s not the greatest performance. The supporting cast is more than a little bit blah.
The biggest problem, however, is that at 105 minutes, The Stylist is much too long—it might have worked at 80 minutes or less, but it goes on and on, far too long for the amount of story. There are some stylistic cues from giallos, but the pacing is really sluggish and the performances are weak.
The concept is OK, but despite a promising premise on paper it ends up being boring. You could see it as Sweeney Todd, but in a women’s hair salon, with a bit of Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs thrown in. If the director had known how to cut it down to the essentials of what is actually is, it might have actually worked. It plays on the whole notion that people can tell their stylist the most intimate things, the things theydon’t tell the people closest to them. But it has an awful lot of plot holes… she kills a lot of people, but you never know what happened to the bodies. This would have been an easy thing to fix.
Oddly enough, the director herself used to be a hair stylist before taking up filmmaking, so perhaps she is living out her fantasy here with the script, with wishful thinking from bad days at work. While I didn’t really go for it, it has found an audience, so other viewers might see it differently.
The score, which is included on a CD with the high-definition Blu-Ray release It fades into the background and doesn’t really add much to the whole atmosphere kind of the point of a score. The package also includes an introduction from the director and her original short, eight behind-the-scenes featurettes, a location-scouting featurette, and a visual essay from critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas. In addition, there are the Kickstarter, teaser and theatrical trailers and an image gallery, plus a bonus short film, Pity, that was produced by Gevargizian and directed by The Stylist’s editor, John Pata.