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I was really impressed with Jill Gevargizian’s short film THE STYLIST (2016), and have been awaiting her feature expansion of the story starring the same fantastic lead actress, Najarra Townsend. 

Shy stylist Claire (Townsend) has a killer vintage fashion sense, and a sweet little doggo as a companion. She spends her days grabbing chai lattes from the cafe next to the salon she works at, taking long walks, and then settles in for some evening hair styling work with an eclectic list of clients that she really vibes with. And sometimes — but just *sometimes* — she likes these clients so much that she kills them, scalps them, and then wears their scalps so she can pretend to BE them. 

Enter Olivia (Brea Grant), a regular client who needs help ASAP with a hairstyle for her upcoming wedding. At first Claire demurs; she doesn’t “do weddings,” but eventually Olivia’s desperation wears her down, and the two meet with Claire creating the perfect style for the big day. 

Overcome by gratitude, Olivia invites Claire to come over to her house to see how her style matches the dress, drink some wine, and have some girl time — an act which deepens Claire’s obsession with Olivia, and starts a snowball of conflict within her. Can Claire quit her murderous habits and become a happy, fulfilled person? Or will she go back to what she knows …. namely, poison and sharp scissors, and admiring her luscious human head wigs inside the lushest basement serial killer lair ever? 

It’s not hard to see where THE STYLIST is going and guess how it’s going to end, and admittedly it could’ve been a tiny bit shorter — but I get it: if I were Gervargizian and I had Najarra as my lead, I might find it impossible to whittle down her amazing performance, even by a few minutes. Grant is also perfect as Olivia; alternating between genuine likability and self-absorbed obliviousness.

This film is absolutely GORGEOUS to look at, with strong acting and some really beautiful layers about female friendship, cliques, loneliness, and belonging. I also loved the fact that Claire is a complex villain who (mostly) appears normal to the outside world. Also THOSE SPECIAL F/X! Whoa. There’s really great visual and audio work going on during the kill scenes.

Overall, a stunning feature launch for Gevargizian. Can’t wait to see what she does next.

{THE STYLIST makes its streaming debut on Arrow Video’s streaming platform Monday, March 1}

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