Claire (Najarra Townsend) is a hair stylist whose life is in cutting hair, styling and small talk with clients. But that small talk is an avenue away from her life that occasionally reveals something about her client. As we observe when Claire does the hair of an out of towner who casually reveals her affair. I can trust you and you are never going to see me again so says the client. Taken by this freedom Claire kills and scalps her putting her hair and living her life, as she does with several others around her.

Claire has settled into her routine of coffee, work and home. The staff at the coffee shop know what she wants, and even when Claire tries to change she ends up ordering the same. Out of the blue she receives a text from a salon client Olivia (Brea Grant) who is getting married and needs her hair done. Initially reluctant Claire agrees and does a fine job. Perked by this Claire and Olivia start to get on and you can see a friendship developing beyond their customer and client acquaintance.

That is fractured when Olivia invites Claire to her hen party, and one of Olivia’s friends make some disparaging remarks that she overhears. Her confidence shattered she turns her attention to the two women and stalks them.

Claire then begins to text Olivia getting frustrated when she doesn’t receive instant replies and her offers to get more involved with the wedding preparations politely rejected. Pushing on Claire oversteps with Olivia and they fall out. Later breaking into Olivia’s home Claire tries her clothes on, in a taught, mesmerising sequence that is silent save for the sound of her footsteps, clothes rustling, and a sex-aid.

Approaching a state of mental collapse Claire holds it together enough to attend and do Olivia’s hair at the wedding.
Writers Jill Gevargizian (who also directs), Eric Havens and Eric Stolze don’t indulge too much in the serial-killer element preferring to open up Claire’s character to scrutiny of which murder is one facet. This leads to a fuller movie and a more rounded character actually eliciting some sympathy for her.

Townsend is astonishing as Claire working the details of a person who is in the depths of depression where the smallest comment or action can send her to almighty highs or plunging lows. The little things that she fixates on for example cleaning the dirt from her boots are glimpses into her character are indications of obsession that manifest later on with Olivia.

The Stylist has style and substance: looking superb with beautiful lighting and colour with a story that looks at a tragic young woman who is incredibly talented but lost in a mundane world compounded by her own awkwardness and shyness.

The Stylist had its UK Premiere at the October FrightFest on 25 October