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Stylist, The

Arrow Video // Unrated // June 8, 2021
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted June 16, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

The Stylist has had quite a bit of hype surrounding its release, taking home an award at 2020's Sitges Film Festival for Best Motion Picture. Co-written by director Jill Gevargizian, Eric Havens and Eric Stolze the film introduces us to a woman named Claire (co-producer Najarra Townsend) who makes her living at a day job where she works at a salon as a hair stylist. Claire seems fine on the surface, but when one of her regulars, Olivia (Brea Grant), comes in and asks her to give her a new do for her upcoming wedding, Claire starts to obsess over the details of Olivia's life. Olivia does seem to have it all: a great relationship, no money problems, just a really happy life overall… which is something Claire can't claim herself.

As Claire tries to suppress her feelings of jealousy, it soon proves much harder to actually do than to want to do. See, Claire has a very dark secret. She sometimes drugs her clients and then cuts off their scalps which she then takes home to make wigs out of, allowing her to act out her fantasies of being these other women who she envies so much. The fact that she seems so nice and normal on the outside makes it easy for Claire to get away with this. Nobody would ever suspect her of doing these horrible things that she does, she just sort of blends into the background most of the time.

The Stylist is a strong feature debut from Jill Gevargizian, who previously made this story as a short film (included in the extra features on this Blu-ray release) in 2016 which also starred Najarra Townsend as Claire. There could and probably should have been a bit more to Claire's character development than we get here, we never properly understand her motivations for doing what she does or what she went through in life to get her to this terrible point, but overall this works quite well and will no doubt leave a lot of viewers hungry to see what Gevargizian follows this movie up with. She's clearly quite talented, with a real knack for creating some strong tension and some truly impressive visual set pieces.

The performances are also quite good. Najarra Townsend is really good in the lead role. She does a great job of portraying Claire as someone who, despite being quite beautiful, doesn't really stand out from the crowd that much, which is exactly how this character needs to be played in order to make it work. There's a meek side to her that Townsend is really good at bringing to life, but when it comes time to slash and maim, she's able to ramp up the intensity accordingly and make Claire a real monster. Grant is good here too, as are pretty much all of the supporting cast members, but this is Townsend's showcase for the most part, and it lets her deliver some impressive work.

The gore effects in the movie are handled well and the film benefits from a really strong score courtesy of Nicholas Elert (included as a bonus CD with this package) and some fantastic work from cinematographer Robert Patrick Stern. Production values are solid overall. This wasn't made with a monster-sized Hollywood budget but Gevargizian doesn't let that stop her from doing a pretty solid job of realizing her vision.

The Blu-ray

Video:

Arrow Video brings The Stylist to Blu-ray using an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and it looks excellent. This was shot digitally and, in post-production, was color graded and tweaked to take on the appearance of an older film and it works quite well but at the same time doesn't sacrifice detail or texture, which remain strong throughout. The disc is free of noticeable compression artifacts and overall, given the intent of the visuals here, it looks really very good on Blu-ray.

Sound:

A 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 option is provided in English. The 5.1 mix spreads the score out really nicely, using the rear channels and subwoofer quite well in that regard. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion here, the levels are fine. Subtitles are provided in English only./p>

Extras:

Extras start off with an audio commentary from co-writer/producer/director Jill Gevargizian and actress/producer Najarra Townsend that does a nice job of shedding some light on the film's origins. There's lots of talk here about how the project came to be, changes that were made to it as it evolved, casting the film, the effect that Covid-19 had on its release, specifics of some of the visuals used in the picture, influences that worked their way into the movie, casting the film, what it was like on set and lots more. Gevargizian also offers a quick, optional one-minute filmed introduction to the feature.

As to the featurettes, The Invisible Woman is a twenty-minute visual essay from Alexandra Heller-Nicholas that takes a pretty deep dive into the themes that the movie explores, including its uniquely feminist elements, women in the work force and female serial murders. It's quite interesting and well put together. Arrow also includes a lengthy sixty-six-minute Behind The Scenes featurette that covers a lot of ground, from pre-production to post-production and everything in between. It's pretty revealing and includes interviews with most of the primary cast and crew that worked on the picture.

Also included on the disc are two of the director's short films. The first is the fifteen-minute short version of The Stylist, which is quite interesting to see and compare to the feature length version. The second is a nine-minute piece called Pity that editor John Pata made in 2016, which you can watch with or without a brief introduction from its director.

There's also a four-minute Location Scouting piece that covers why certain locations were used, seven-minutes of Outtakes from the feature, a three-minute Original Kickstarter Video featuring Gevargizian's pitch to help get the movie funded, a teaser trailer, a theatrical trailer, two still galleries, menus and chapter selection options. Arrow has also done a nice job with the packaging here, including an insert booklet in the keepcase along with a poster and the film's excellent soundtrack on CD. We also get some nice double-sided cover sleeve art and a slipcover.

Final Thoughts:

The Stylist does, at times, feel like style over substance but it's a pretty entertaining picture regardless of some quirks in the storytelling. Arrow's Blu-ray package is fantastic, presenting the film in an excellent presentation and with loads of extras. Overall, this is a really nice release. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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