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  Stylist, The Hair Today Gone Tomorrow
Year: 2020
Director: Jill Gevargizian
Stars: Najarra Townsend, Brea Grant, Laura Kirk, Sarah McGuire, Jennifer Seward, Millie Milan, Kimberly Igla, Kyle Ament, Davis DeRock, Steve Hugh Nelson, Bety Le, Edward Patterson, Vienna Maas, Chelsea Brown, Angela Dupuie, Ashley Kukay, Timothy English
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Claire (Najarra Townsend) is a hairdresser in this Kansas City location where she works in a local salon, though outside of work she does not have much to her life, with no real friends to speak of (or to) and just her little dog Pepper for company. She tends to be the employee who stays late, having nothing else to do, as this evening when she attends to the styling of a businesswoman who is passing through and wanted a quick session in the chair. She finds it easy to talk to Claire because she's a good listener, not interrupting and besides, she offered the businesswoman a glass of wine, that's going to make you more amiable. But what if the wine was drugged? And what if Claire took her victim's hair from her head by scalping her, to take home and wear?

Well, your opinion of Claire may have changed drastically after reading that, but co-writer and director Jill Gevargizian fully intended mixed feelings to prevail after watching her protagonist driven insane by loneliness, or so we assume, as any clues to her personality are obscured by the way she adapts other people's to apply to her own. So she may be telling the truth when she said, for instance, her mother died when she was seventeen, on the other hand it might be something she concocted in her twisted little mind, but one thing was for sure, you were intended to feel a little sorry for this hopeless woman who with a character and goals like hers, never stood a chance of a normal existence in a world that has no real place for those such as her, and never will.

The Stylist was back in the territory of Fritz Lang's benchmark M, where Peter Lorre had been the pathetic child-murderer who you don't sympathise with, but are disturbed by feeling regrets for the manner he has turned out, wondering if society had been a little more welcoming to him whether he would have turned to the worst crimes imaginable. Of course, in reality some folks are irredeemable anyway and there's no hint of wanting to accept them for what they were when they were plainly awful people, but that inkling that had they met or mixed with others who were more empathetic and able to channel those impulses towards evildoing to something more constructive is always going to prey on the minds of those who knew them, anything that might have avoided their dreadful behaviour, be that a serial bully or a serial killer.

Claire is not an unattractive soul, superficially at least, you can imagine she would quite easily have settled down with someone had she met Mister or Miss Right - she may be gay, or that might be a product of her tendency towards obsession over anyone who pays her more than slight attention, but when salon regular Olivia (Brea Grant) asks her to do her hair for an upcoming wedding, Olivia's overbearing friendliness (she won't take no for an answer) triggers Claire's romantic longing to make connections with someone, anyone, and soon she is creeping around following this woman, breaking into her home to try on her nightdress and (yikes!) masturbate with her vibrator, and there is a punchline on the way that seems inevitable. You could be ahead of the film in that respect, given we get interludes where the antiheroine murders and scalps women unlucky enough to be noticed by her, but that did not make the conclusion any the less horribly tragic, yet with a dark humour in an EC Comics tradition. Though patently a short beefed up to feature length, maybe a shade too much, The Stylist was a very strong effort from all concerned. And yes, stylish. Music by Nicholas Elert.

[See THE STYLIST first, on March 1st 2021, exclusively on ARROW.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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