The Stylist: Limited Edition [Blu-ray]
(Najarra Townsend, Brea Grant, Davis DeRock, et al / Blu-ray+CD / NR / (2020) 2021 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: Obsession gets a makeover in The Stylist, a deliciously twisted slice of female-led psychological horror, nominated for the New Visions Award for Best Motion Picture at the 2020 Sitges International Film Festival and based on co-writer/director Jill Gevargizians award-winning short film of the same name.
We all dream of being someone else, but for Claire (Najarra Townsend, Contracted), that dream goes from an obsession to a living nightmare. Hairstylist by day, serial killer and collector of scalps by night, Claires lonely existence is thrown into turmoil when her regular client, Olivia (Brea Grant, After Midnight, Lucky), asks her to style her hair for her wedding day.
Increasingly fixated on Olivias seemingly flawless life, Claire vows to lock up her scalp collection and change her ways for good - only to discover that repressing your deadly desires is easier said than done!
Blu-ray Verdict: After visiting a friend, a hair-stylist gradually becomes invested in her life as the day of her friends wedding approaches, but that also signals the start of a descent into madness that pushes her towards the brink of insanity as she carries out a struggle to keep the murderous instincts hidden within.
There is quite a lot to like with this one. Among the finest aspects featured here is the whole idea of the exploration into her psychosis which is quite well-developed throughout here.
Initially getting an idea about who she is and what she is capable of with the opening shot of the murder taking place and resulting scalping of the victim that gives us an idea of her madness, the rest of the first half goes through a lot of impressive work to show her struggling to keep it together.
Socially awkward except around her clients, hesitant to be around her more outgoing friend but being a good sport while trying to keep the voices in her head in check and being visibly uncomfortable being around the loud and vivacious gang, all gives this a great idea of how her ongoing mental issues threaten to keep bubbling to the surface the longer she is around her and her friends.
That carries over into the utter brutality present in the kills once we see her finally snap. The first victim is scalped in grand fashion and turned into a signature wig later on, while a second victim is shown to be stalked, kidnapped and dispatched in even more graphic fashion as it gets incredibly vicious at times.
Even later staking scenes come off even more brutal as the subdued gore effects are quite impressive overall and generate plenty of enjoyable gore as the whole concept of her snapping at times of great stress and frustration is capably handled.
Given how all of this occurs as a result of her psychological mishaps, the end result is quite enjoyable overall and makes for a highly enjoyable effort. There is not much to be had here that really knocks it down.
The main issue some might have with this one is the psychological approach present might not generate the swiftest pace for everyone involved.
Since we are waiting around for something to happen that will cause her to snap, it takes on a far more languid pace and tempo than most would be comfortable with and as a result might make it feel somewhat overlong for its own good as well.
This one probably could have used a slight trim as it does run a little longer than it needs to be, even though the end result is still a highly enjoyable and watchable genre effort; for the most part.
Coupled with a surprisingly obvious, yet no less confusing finale that does not make any sense, these are what hold this one back and yet; at the same time, allow it to be a highly original film! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Double-sided fold-out poster
Illustrated collectors booklet featuring new writing on the film by Emma Westwood and a gallery of exclusive location scouting photographs
Audio commentary by co-writer/producer/director Jill Gevargizian and actress/producer Najarra Townsend
Exclusive Blu-ray introduction by Jill Gevargizian
The Invisible Woman, an exclusive visual essay by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, exploring the themes of womens labor and female killers in The Stylist and horror cinema
The Stylist - Behind the Scenes, a series of eight behind-the-scenes featurettes on different aspects of the films production, featuring interviews with the cast and crew
Location scouting featurette
Original Kickstarter video
The original 2016 The Stylist short film directed by Jill Gevargizian and starring Najarra Townsend, that inspired the main feature
Pity, a 2016 short film directed by The Stylists editor, John Pata, and executive produced by Jill Gevargizian, with an optional introduction by Pata
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sara Deck
Limited Edition CD containing the original The Stylist Soundtrack