The Stylist (2020)

Director: Jill Gevargizian

Running Time: 104 Minutes

Certification: 18

Starring: Najarra Townsend, Brea Grant, Laura Kirk, Sarah McGuire, Jennifer Seward, Millie Milan

For Claire (Najarra Townsend), the grass is always greener on the other side. She desires to be another person, somebody who isn't as lonely, or finding difficulty in connecting with others. That's why she loves working as a hairstylist, as it allows her to move through other people's worlds, and be a part of their lives for that moment. An added plus is that, when the right person sits in her chair, she ends their lives and keeps a permanent souvenir.

Central to this film are universal themes of loneliness, and wishing to change that through making connections. Najarra Townsend never plays the role like a cartoon, capturing her desire to shed her insecurities and have a close relationship. Maybe that's why, when she wears her victims scalps and pretends to be them, you believe in the sincerity of the performance. You believe that, through this cruel act, she begins to feel more at peace. It helps that the gnarly effects are so well rendered, and complimented by Nicholas Elert's ethereal score.

Things are thrown into turmoil when Olivia, her regular client, asks Claire to style her hair for her wedding. Brea Grant puts a great deal of charm into the role, as she's nervous about her impending nuptials, while holding doubts. She's in the midst of her own wedding crisis, when Claire comes into the middle of it. Through her hiring, a glimmer of hope is brought to the stylist, as she believes Olivia offers the potential of friendship. It seems, though, that the feeling may not be mutual.

As a result, the films middle portion resembles a 90s thriller, in the vein of Single White Female, and the interest wanes. Where Jill Gevargizian's 2016 short film told what was important in a 15 minute runtime, the common issue arises in expanding that to feature length. By giving time and space to the characters and their decisions, the unfortunate outcome is how padded out it feels. In spite of that, this is a film which sticks to its convictions, fully trusting in its vision until the very end.

The Stylist is playing at Arrow Video Frightfest - Digital Edition 2, on Sunday October 25th at 11:45am. Tickets are only £5.99, be sure to check it out.