BARE BONES: THE STYLIST (2020)

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THE STYLIST (2020)

Claire (Najarra Townsend) is a lonely and emotionally troubled hairstylist who likes to live vicariously through the lives of her clients. She also murders those clients and scalps them, to wear later on when she is home pretending to be them. Maniac much, Claire? Her latest target of obsession is client Olivia (Brea Grant), who is about to be married and wants Claire to do her hair for the wedding. Will Olivia live happily ever after, or get the worst hairstyle ever on her big day?

Film is directed by Jill Gevargizian from her script along with Eric Stolze and Eric Havens. It’s a perfect example of a familiar story made fresh with an innovative and creative touch by a talented filmmaker. At it’s core, it’s a routine story about an emotionally troubled, demented and lonely individual, who forms an unhealthy and dangerous obsession/attachment to others. Sure, we’ve seen it before, but not quite like this. Gevargizian not only bathes the film in a lush visual style, with some very impressive shot composition, but gives it’s characters some nice depth, making Claire in particular sympathetic in her loneliness. Sure Claire is a demented young woman who murders those she obsesses with and keeps/wears their scalps, but we do feel sorry for her and she is almost likable, despite her homicidal activities. She is not a monster, but an incredibly damaged and sad human being. Olivia isn’t perfect either, despite being in the role of obsession/potential next victim, she can be a little selfish and self absorbed. When Olivia, at one point, rejects Claire, we do feel bad for her, even if we expect she’ll resort to violence and she does. The director and writers avoid the stereotypical character portrayals usually present in these types of tales. Gevargizian also climaxes her gory and tragic story with a gut punch ending. Even if it’s not beyond expectations, it still hits hard and shocks. It resonates as the credits role. The cast is very good, with a wonderfully demented and sad performance by Najarra Townsend (Contracted). It’s her show and she carries it beautifully. Great work from the actress in making Claire human and keeping her from simply being a monster. The cinematography by Robert Patrick Stern is absolutely amazing and there is a really great score by Nicholas Elert. Definitely worth watching.

Flick is currently showing exclusively for subscribers on ARROWPlayer.com, but should be available for VOD streaming elsewhere in June.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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REVIEW: UNDER THE BED (2013)

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UNDER THE BED (2013)

Director Steven C. Miller’s low budget horror about two brothers (Jonny Weston and Gattlin Griffith) literally battling a monster beneath the bed, has some potential but, is sunk by a really badly written script by Eric Stolze and some terrible acting by Terry Hausman and Musetta Vander as the boys’ dad and step-mom. That and the fact that nothing much really happens in this plot hole ridden film until the last 10 minutes and despite a cool creature and some good gore, the fact that the story doesn’t seem to be following any sort of constructive narrative keeps it from being the least bit suspenseful or scary. What is going on and why? The creature seems to follow no real detectable pattern of behavior and it’s actions are constantly contradictory. A perfect example is that it scares step-mom, Angela (Vander) in the garage and then again later for no apparent reason as it’s biggest advantage is that the parents don’t believe in it, so, why reveal itself to the parents when the kids seem to be what it wants to begin with and it’s existence remained hidden. We are never given a reason for it’s being in the house or it’s targeting of the brothers and the resolution of the conflict is simply befuddling. If there was some sort of message or metaphor here, it’s buried under the inconsistent story and illogical activities of the characters and creature. If it was supposed to have something to do with the boys’ mom’s death 2 years earlier in the fire set by older brother Neal (Weston), that makes no sense as he set it battling the creature so it was already there before she died. Neal was having problems with ‘it’ long before the fire. And since the creature does claim victims, it’s obviously not a figment of unresolved guilt and is real within the context of the film. Others in the film see it too and fall victim to it. Again, the story makes no sense and the script defeats any attempt to make sense of it. Too bad, the kids perform very convincing, the creature and gore FX are good and with a better script, tighter direction and better actors as the adults, this might have been a somewhat entertaining low budget monster flick. As it is, there is little to recommend.

2 hot dogs… which has nothing to do with the movie but, since the movie makes no sense, my rating doesn’t have to either!

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