Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Stylist (2020)

Claire, a lonely hair stylist, works day after day in her salon. Once in a while, she will choose a customer whose life compels her (and the circumstances are right) to kill and take their scalp for her collection. When Olivia, a long time client, asks her to do her hair for her wedding after her original stylist abruptly canceled, something snaps within her and her deadly urges spin out of control.

I absolutely loved The Stylist short film and I was super excited to hear about it being lengthened into a feature film. Najarra Townshend reprises her role as Claire and infuses the character with sympathy. Claire is incredibly lonely. She has no friends or family, only acquaintances at work and at the coffee shop she frequents. The scalpings and murders seem to be driven by her need to pretend to be other people, those who have secret affairs, husbands, children, and the lengthy list of things she doesn't have. Anxiety and self loathing follows every social interaction over every word she says or outfit she wears. The self loathing in particular tracks with her ritual around pretending to be others in their scalps. These feelings also contribute to obsession with Olivia who is everything she isn't, social and bubbly. It's refreshing to see that Olivia doesn't have the perfect life yet Claire wants it anyway because it's different. 

One person pays attention to her, the barista she sees every day, but Claire doesn't acknowledge her or seem to realize the potential for some sort of relationship is right in front of her. She has to chase things that aren't hers, as is repeated throughout the film. When she spend more time with the bride to be and her family and friends, Claire starts to kill with greater frequency and much more recklessly. Then she tries to stop killing all together and finally throws herself into it once again. It was interesting to see such an emotional, relatable portrayal of a lonely person with anxiety alongside the typical behavior of a serial killer.

The Stylist expands upon the short film pretty well. It lost me a little bit in the third act before the ending. I felt it dragged  and could have benefited from editing out some sequences. For instance, there were several repetitions of her waking up days in a row that simply wasn't needed. Also if a director is going to insert themselves obviously into the film, it usually comes off a bit cheesy as it did here. Other than that, this film does a wonderful job crawling into the psyche of deranged yet familiar character.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

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