I stumbled across The Stylist a few weeks ago while browsing through the Shudder library. While looking for something new and exciting to fold laundry to, I came across the cover which caught my attention. The hover-over description simply read “A hair stylist has some very disturbing plans for her final appointment of the day.” That was good enough for me. Being that it’s “Women in Horror Month” I figured it was appropriate to write my first official movie review on one that blew my expectations!
The film opened with a quick dialogue between our primary actress, Calir, played by Najarra Townsend (Contracted, Wolf Mother) and her associate Alicia (Angela Dupuie), who was late for a date. In all honesty my first thought was “at least I’ve got stuff to do while I watch this…” Not being a woman or someone who frequents salons or gets regular hair cuts, I was somewhat turned off by the opening of the movie. I could only relate the drudge of having to wait for a client when all you want to do is bail your 9 to 5 job and do absolutely anything else. In walks Mandy (Jennifer Plas) who’s emotion is clearly worn on her sleeve. She’s stressed and tired and seemingly in a rush. She then reveals that she’s throwing a party for her boss. Her primary concern is that she’s “got to look perfect” and vents about the glass ceiling being a bitch. Something about the way Mandy delivered her lines caught my attention. I believed her. Not only because she was acting this role out with class, but there was an undertone pain that I’ve heard from other women in the “work force”. Or at least in movies. This woman was clearly busting her ass off, trying to get as high into her company as possible and was having a hard time due to a lack of recognition for her work. Hence the need to look perfect, I imagine. Not only did she feel the need to work as hard as possible, but she needed to look amazing while doing it, showing that she’s capable of handling the stress and monotony of higher positions. As the story goes on, it very quickly turns to the classic barbershop scene where the stylist is trying to create small talk and the client is spilling her guts out (figuratively), venting about life, liberty and the pursuit of higher pay. Midway through the rambling, their audio cuts and you’re watching the one sided conversation take place over a perfectly calming melody as Mandy’s hair goes through it’s transformation to perfection. You start to notice that Mandy’s demeanor begins to calm and her face and and energy begin to drop, all the while unsure if it’s the exhaustion of opening up and being vulnerable with another person or something else… Without giving away too much, Clair’s intentions with her client begin to surface as the appointment carries on, later revealing her frustration with her own pursuit of perfection which is acted out phenomenally. Clair’s temperance and demeanor throughout her appointment is so well maintained that you have a hard time believing that she could be behind anything, which makes her all the more terrifying. By the end of the film, all I wanted to do was to give Clair a hug… but from a very safe distance.
I’ve yet to work out my own gimmicky rating system, but on Shudder.com, I happily gave it 5 out of 5 skulls!
With a total run time of 14 minutes and 57 seconds, entering into the film blind, not having heard of it or having read the full synopsis, I was definitely caught of guard. I’d found that my pile of clothing was no more folded than when I’d started, and my eyes were stretched as wide as they could manage. The film ended and I was jaw dropped. Not reading about the movie, I had no idea that it was a short film and it could easily have captivated my attention for a full feature length. This is without a doubt a movie that I will be recommending to anyone who asks. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but it will stick with you in the creepiest way possible and with any luck, you’ll reconsider bitching to your barber/stylist. Who know’s what they’ve got going on?
Thanks for taking the time to read this! If you’ve got thoughts, comments, questions or critiques, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!
If you’re looking for a way to watch The Stylist, Shudder.com offers a free trial. Check out the trailer for The Stylist below:
Director: Jill Gevargizian Screenplay: Eric Havens Story: Jill Gevargizian Clair: Najarra Townsend Mandy: Jennifer Plas Alicia: Angela Dupuie DOP: Robert Patrick Stern Original Score: Paul Pawlowski