The Stylist (2016) [Fantastic Fest 2016]

thestylistLate at the salon, a stylist works on a regular customer.  As she is almost finished, things take a turn for the unusual.  As this film is better enjoyed with as few spoilers as possible, its plot will not be discussed any further. Written by Eric Havens based on a story by Jill Gevargizian and directed by Gevargizian, a stylist herself, the film explores a stylist’s obsession with hair and how far she goes in a beautiful manner.

Together with their lead actress Najarra Townsend, they create a short film that resonates on many levels as they take the time to develop the title character (as much as a short allows) as well as her relationship with her work and her client.  The mysteries they keep work well and add to the film’s appeal. The lead actress in this short is everything as in without a strong performance, the film would not have worked, it would have crumbled.  This lead, Claire, is played by Najarra Townsend who does a fantastic job.  She puts a lot of emotions in the part without going overboard or cartoony.  Her acting is subtle and masterful, giving a performance that shows restraint and a connection to the part.

The two human supporting roles are fairly minimal with Jennifer Plas as Mandy getting the meatiest one of the two.  Both she and Angela Dupuie do well with their short time on screen. As The Stylist is a horror short, the special effects and visual effects are of high importance.  These were done by Colleen Mary and Ariah McLaws for the special effects and Ryan Housknecht for the visual effects.  These effects, without spoiling the surprises, work well for this film adding to the creep factor with some well done bloody goodness.

Gevargizian’s film is visually stunning with a great attention to details.  The costumes, décor, and the images come together to achieve a specific look.  The cinematography by Robert Patrick Stern shows these details in interesting angles and frames, not always keeping the focus where other films would have, creating an interest before showing more.  Accompanying these images, the score by Nicholas Elert subtly underlines the story and its emotions, not over doing it and not missing a beat at the same time, a balance that can be difficult at times.

The Stylist is a great horror short with beautiful visuals, well done effects, and an emotionally apt lead performance.  It’s a short that gets you in ways you didn’t expect and it not fully explained thus keeping some mystery about itself.