FANTASTIC FEST 2020: ‘The Stylist’

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The Stylist

The Stylist, a film directed by Jill Gevargizian, made its world premiere at this year’s Fantastic Fest. The film is based on a short film under the same name that was released back in 2019. The main character is Claire (Najarra Townsend), a lonely hairstylist who becomes obsessed with the lives of her clients. The more she becomes obsessed, the bigger her desire to be her clients gets. It’s at that point where Claire kills her clients in order to be them. One day, Claire is contacted by one of her recurring clients, Olivia (Brea Grant), who recently lost her wedding hairstylist. Olivia pleads Claire to do her hair on her wedding day, which Claire agrees to do. However, her obsession with Olivia starts to build as the two begin to bond.

It’s evident that the horror genre has been able to turn the most simple things into something truly frightening. Whether it’s films like The Fly or The Ring, horror is able to bring out fear in viewers even through things that wouldn’t normally be scary. Getting a hair cut or a new hairdo, under normal circumstances, wouldn’t be considered a scary thing. However, The Stylist will surely leave viewers second-guessing whether getting a hair cut is necessary. As for Claire’s obsession, it puts viewers into the mindset of how a simple interaction between two people can escalate into something dark. Joining these two elements to create an incredible premise is what made The Stylist an enjoyable and unique film.

The opening scene of The Stylist not only introduces the central character but it also shows the tone of just how brutal the film would get. Though some of the kills happen off-screen, what happens after Claire kills her clients is what will capture viewers’ attention. She decides to take a piece of her clients’ body, and in her mind, it is what will help make her become them. The scene is carried out in a truly horrific manner. A major part of the brutality comes from her obsession, which puts into perspective the kind of person that Claire really is. Her need to become her patients and the lengths she goes through is both captivating and frightening. The scenes where she looks in the mirror and puts on what she took from her clients was hard to look at, mainly because the film showed what she did to get it.

The Stylist

Claire is one of the most intriguing killers that I have seen in quite some time. Throughout most of The Stylist, the spotlight is given on her obsession. It’s the main element that drives her character to do what she does. However, there’s also a side to her character that knows what she’s been doing is wrong. There are multiple scenes where Claire runs away from hanging out with Olivia because of all the lies she’s had to say to put on a fake persona for the sake of her obsession. This constant struggle is what helps Claire a more complex character rather than fitting the typical killer. Townsend’s performance is captivating while also making awkward at times to watch how far this obsession takes her character.

A major element that The Stylist focuses on is social anxiety and the effects it can have on people. All of the focus is put on Claire because of how isolated she is from the start of the film. Several characters throughout the film point out just how socially awkward Claire is, which angers her. That anger adds to her obsession with Olivia, which in turn leads her to escalate her actions. However, Claire’s social anxiety isn’t something that the film tries to hide. Her social anxiety is what seems to drive her to want to become her clients. The need to have the lives of her clients by killing them is a direct effect of her wanting to escape her social anxiety. The ways in which the film went about to show this was incredible.

Overall, I quite enjoyed watching The Stylist. The manner in which the unique premise was formed from making something like a hairstylist and a person’s obsession for someone else was executed well. The level of brutality the film displays is quite jarring while also being something that horror fans will appreciate. Claire, the film’s central character, was incredibly portrayed and will surely make quite a mark on the horror genre. The film’s focus on social anxiety is handled well while also putting into perspective the role it plays in Claire’s life. The Stylist will surely make many horror fans’ “Best Horror Films of 2020” lists and I for one am extremely excited.

The Stylist had its world premiere at the 2020 Fantastic Fest on September 26, 2020.

The Stylist
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

The Stylist will surely make many horror fans’ “Best Horror Films of 2020” lists and I for one am extremely excited.