Review by John Dugan
When first watching the trailer for this film, I was worried that as an Irish film certain colloquialisms and phrases would be lost on me, an American viewer. I also think it’s important to acknowledge this, so that any readers can take that context into consideration. However, despite my unfamiliarity with what were likely easily recognizable sights, phrases, and events to an Irish audience, I definitely enjoyed my viewing of Deadly Cuts (Rachel Carey, 2021). The film follows a group of hairdressers as their business struggles to survive under the tyranny of gang leader Deano (Ian Lloyd Anderson), and aims to win the hairstyling competition “AHHHAIR!” in an attempt to get their salon on the map. Deadly Cuts was most definitely over the top in many ways, even for a comedy, but was also decently balanced with melodramatic– as well as heartfelt– moments.
One aspect that I found myself bouncing back and forth on was the “camp-ness” of the film. At some points it felt perfectly in line with the direction the story was going, and over the top in just the right way that was believable. In others, however, it was oddly juxtaposed against the darker moments of the film. There were also certain aspects of the film that felt cheaply done, but this seemed more to do with the issues of budget than any lack of attention by the filmmakers. The acting within the film represented this “camp-ness” well, but once again felt oddly contrasted against the darker moments. The main cast consists of the four stylists, the salon owner Michelle (Angeline Ball), the central character Stacey (Erika Roe), Chantelle (Shauna Higgins), and Gemma (Lauren Larkin). Their acting especially came across as over the top, but in such a way that felt intentional, and was in keeping with the comedic tone of the film.
Part of what influenced my viewing of this film was having watched Heathers (Michael Lehmann, 1989) the night before. If you’re a fan of this dark comedy, you’ll most likely enjoy Deadly Cuts as well. I found myself genuinely wondering if the filmmakers were inspired by the 80s teen dark comedy, as the more dramatic moments in the films felt very similar to each other.
I do think, however, that by the end of the film the darker tones as well as the campy moments were tied together in a satisfying and amusing way. At the core of the film was the sense of community within a small town; so the anti-classist messages didn’t feel out of place in this setting. While Deadly Cuts probably won’t be the next Heathers, it’s a fun film to watch nonetheless.