The Stylist follows a woman who cuts and styles hair for a living and is well-liked by her customers. But by night, she moonlights as a serial killer who collects the hair and scalps of her victims. Arrow has brought this recent film to life on Blu-ray with a fantastic 1080p HD transfer, an excellent DTS-HD 5.1 audio track, and a ton of extras, including the soundtrack on CD. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
There have been many serial killer horror movies over the years where the killer in question is a law-abiding citizen by day, and by night allows their vicious alter-ego out to play. Patrick Bateman in American Psycho is a perfect example of this as is Norman Bates from the original Psycho films. Both ran profitable companies and interacted with colleagues and friends on a daily basis - that is until their murderous rage jumped out to unsuspecting victims. The same goes for Jill Gevargizian's new movie The Stylist that follows a functioning and friendly woman by day, but by night, her inner psycho is let loose on all those around her. The Stylist is a fantastic story and great addition to the serial killer genre.
There are some professions out there that seem completely safe in that someone feels absolute comfort in confiding in personal information. This of course is a hairstylist or barber. Name another job where people sit in a chair and talk about all the personal lifestyles, gossip, and receive sage advice on a regular basis without paying an arm and leg - or in this case a scalp. There's something so comforting in seeing a hairstylist make anyone look and feel good on the inside and out. This is what makes The Stylist so scary.
The focus is on Claire (Najarra Townsend), who starts out discussing her job and how she gets to meet new people, talk about their lives, and make them happier. It just turns out that she also drugs her patients, kills and scalps them, so she can add to her ever-expanding trophy room of real wigs. Claire struggles with her savage alter-ego throughout the film, especially when her regular client Olivia (Brea Grant) asks Claire to style her hairdo for her big wedding. Claire is completely infatuated with Olivia. She loves the way she carries herself, how she is able to make friends easily, be outgoing, and generally happy about life. Claire is the opposite of this but hides it fairly well.
Most, but not all of these serial killer movies feature some sort of origin story, or how the killer in question developed the skills and mindset to murder others. This is usually to give some sympathy towards the antagonist and it reveals some sort of abuse from childhood. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre did NOT go into any reason why that particular family became the maniacal cannibals they were known for. In later sequels like Leatherface or some of the prequels and remakes, the filmmakers took it upon themselves to give the iconic monster Leatherface a big element of sympathy. Even though it was a bit on the nose, there was a fluid set up as to why maybe Leatherface became the killer he was and it was understood.
In The Stylist, however, there are only small crumbs of why Claire enjoys her murderous ways. It never really gives a clear image as to the why of her killer psyche, but that's one of the reasons this character and film works. It makes the story and character scarier to not no a real reason. Iago in Othello never gave a reason and that character is one of the best villains in history. So Claire plays the audience back and forth in her sympathetic attempt to win over the audience and it works very well.
Performances are solid throughout and the visuals only heighten the elements of suspense and horror from the retro hairstyling setting to the basement of trophies with haunting lighting. The Stylist started as a short film, but KC native Jill Gevargizian gave the film its styling scissors to tell a bigger story of a woman trying to find her place in life while trying to accept her own self in society.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Stylist cuts its way to Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video. The Blu-ray Disc + CD soundtrack is housed inside a hard, clear plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. The new artwork features a faceless person with a bloody scalp of hair. The alternate artwork on the reverse side is different. There is an Arrow booklet with info on the film, the insert for promo items, a fold-out poster of the movie, and the CD soundtrack.
The Stylist comes with a great 1080p HD transfer in its original 2.39:1 aspect ratio that looks amazing in this digitally shot film. The color palette is bold and rich in certain scenes, such as the clubs and inside the styling studio where greens, purples, and reds look excellent.
Down inside the basement where all of the scalps are on display, reveals an amber tint that looks eerie and dusty. Other sequences have a slimy and moldy green tint to them, which never really hinders the detail. These are stylized images that serve to enhance the horror of the film. The blood is varying shades of red and always makes a big splash on the screen.
The detail is quite sharp and vivid with excellent closeups that showcase facial pores, makeup work, practical visual effects in wounds, skin, musical, and more. Sweat and blood droplets can also be seen easily as well. Textures in clothes the silver shiny scissors and the bloody scalps look intense too. Individual hairs of people's heads show up nicely as well. Black levels are deep and inky with no murky shadows and skin tones are always natural. There are no signs of noise, aliasing, or banding.
This release comes with a great DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix that kicks into high gear in particular scenes. Sound effects are well balanced and nuanced and for most of the time - subtle. The sound of scissors cutting or a spray bottle misting all sounds great. It's not until the heavier horror sequences of kills or when everyone is at a club or a party where the full array of the sound system knocks it up a few levels.
These bigger moments provide a great immersive listening experience with people talking, yelling, music, glasses clanking, and more. Other quieter noises such as slicing someone's head open and pulling the skin off are fantastically gruesome. The score always adds to the suspense of the situation and the dialogue is clean, clear, and free of any audio problems.
There are 139 minutes of bonus material included here, with visual essays, behind-the-scenes featurettes, outtakes, original short films, location scouting, trailers, and more. Also, there is a great commentary track and a physical copy of the soundtrack on CD.
Arrow Video has knocked it out of the park with The Stylist. This film goes to some great, dark places and has some meaningful messages about women in the workplace. Its style, carnage, and bloodshed are fantastic as well. The video and audio presentations are both excellent and the fantastic bonus features are all worth watching in this collector's set. Highly Recommended!