The Stylist review – an insipid thriller three decades out of fashion

With its vast plot holes, wooden acting and wanton violence, this serial killer tale has the feel of a straight-to-video flop

Sadly, nowadays there is no video for this to go straight to. Maybe someone should reopen a branch of Blockbuster just so a VHS copy can be ceremoniously placed in a bargain bin by the exit.

The Stylist lumbers heavily along as if it’s wearing deep-sea diver’s boots, a queasy mash-up of serial-killer nightmare with 90s-style Single White Female-esque thriller. The acting and directing are entirely terrible, the editing and pacing are so sluggish you’ll feel as if you’re going into a persistent vegetative state, the plot is tiresomely unthought-through, the split-screen shots don’t work and the musical score is so pointless and undifferentiated it sounds like elevator muzak. I do have to admit that the final wedding scene, with one particular cutaway shot of a beaming bridesmaid, does have a certain OTT outrageousness. But that doesn’t justify the price of admission – or of sitting through all that has gone before.

Najarra Townsend plays a hair stylist named Claire who is really good at her job. Her way with the scissors and other sharp implements, and her tender scalp caresses, sooth her customers. But she has a habit of offering after-hours haircuts in the salon, giving her customers a late-night glass of wine into which she’s slipped something, and taking Hannibal-style trophies. Then, slightly out of the blue – and this doesn’t really mesh with her creepy MO – Claire forms an obsession with one of her regulars, Olivia (Brea Grant), which this leads to something truly yucky.

Exasperatingly, this film fails to tell us something basic: how exactly is Claire moving and disposing of the corpses once she’s done her horrible number on them? Is she burying them? Keeping them in a freezer? One of her victims is the subject of “Missing” fliers put up around town – but later we hear that this same person is getting a “funeral”. So … they found the body? Or what? Either way, this movie has no vital signs.

  • Available from 1 March on Arrow.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Cutting edge: the 80s hair salon that styled the future of fashion
A new documentary charts the rise and fall of a Soho shop that became a microcosm of British sexuality, creativity and multiculturalism

Nirpal Dhaliwal

09, Oct, 2018 @12:45 PM

Article image
What does Hair Love’s Oscar success say about diversity in Hollywood?
The seven-minute animated short about a girl and her afro hair has won fans and critical acclaim – but the battle is far from won

Tola Onanuga

25, Feb, 2020 @2:32 PM

Article image
From tinted tresses to name necklaces: this week’s fashion trends
What’s hot and what’s not in fashion this week

09, Aug, 2019 @11:01 AM

Article image
From Rapunzel-length hair to the demise of double denim: this week’s fashion trends
What’s hot and what’s not in fashion this week

02, Aug, 2019 @10:59 AM

Article image
Hats off to a hair stylist with the soft touch
Kinky-haired women can now use a product which puts the emphasis on gloriously touchable locks, says Gemma Cairney

Gemma Cairney

15, Jul, 2018 @5:00 AM

Article image
Weaving tales: Barber Shop Chronicles and theatre's wave of black hair shows
Inua Ellams’ hit play bounces between barbers around the world, taking audiences into a male world of rituals and politics, while women share their own hair stories in My Fro and Me

Bridget Minamore

06, Dec, 2017 @7:23 PM

Article image
Kate Moss' hair stylist: 'British people wear their hair as a tribal badge'
One of Britain’s most renowned celebrity hair stylists, talks about the statements we make with our hair ahead of a London exhibition of his work

Sam McKnight

15, Sep, 2016 @10:11 AM

Article image
The film that makes me cry: Steel Magnolias
This salon-centred tale is an unexpectedly complex study in the power of female friendship and the perspective-enhancing powers of a new hairdo

Sophie Zeldin-O'Neill

30, Mar, 2015 @7:00 AM

Article image
The best pixie haircuts of all time: from Jean Seberg to Judi Dench

Films often portray short hair on women as a product of illness, or even criminality. In Bonjour Tristesse, a young Jean Seberg showed the powerful message a short 'do can send out

Pamela Hutchinson

29, Aug, 2013 @10:57 AM

Article image
Not Speaking by Norma Clarke review – tight trousers and celebrity hairdressers
This is an explosive family memoir ... but the remarkable stories are also an exploration of the effect Thatcherism had on Britain

Kathryn Hughes

19, Jul, 2019 @7:59 AM