SIFF 2021 Review: Deadly Cuts

Year: 2021


Duration: 90 minutes


Writer/Director: Rachel Carey


Actors: Angeline Ball, Erika Roe, Lauren Larkin, Shauna Higgins, Ian Lloyd Anderson

By Caz Armstrong

A black comedy about a bunch of vigilante Irish hairdressers? Yes please!

In a working-class Dublin hair salon, four women struggle to keep their business afloat against the headwinds of local deprivation and small-time mobsters milking them for protection money. But they have big aspirations. The “Ahh Hair” hairdressing competition is coming up and a win would mean saving the salon as well as defeating old enemies.

After an altercation with the area hard-man Deano (Ian Lloyd Anderson), the team become accidental vigilantes. Escaping to “Ahh Hair”, they face a different kind of foe. The snobbish and classist rivals from wealthier salons look down on our rag-tag bunch. Sabotage, derision, and hairspray are in the air, as is the threat of repercussions from their hometown gang. Yet our heroes forge ahead regardless.

Deadly Cuts 2021 O’Sullivan Productions

This larger-than-life low budget comedy knows exactly what it’s going for and therefore pulls it off well. Characters have a touch of the pantomime about them, embodying exaggerated versions of the stereotypes they’re playing. The colours are bright and the tone is very fun.

The “Ahh Hair” competition oozes with all the glamour and pizzazz of a “Zoolander” runway with flashy lights and overly artistic judges who will fall for any nonsense as long as it sounds pretentious.

Yet underneath the humor there is an observation about working class communities and gentrification. The community pulls together in support of each other despite the hardships they all face. One can’t help but grin as the locals all gather to cheer their girls on. A chorus of high-pony tail dancers is the next generation, free to backflip in the streets now that the literal feces have been washed away.

In that sense it’s a celebration. Communities don’t have to be large, gentrified or wealthy to thrive. All it takes is to be free from the threat of vandalism or extortion and a small local salon, butcher’s shop or pub can flourish.  

It’s also interesting to see a film set around a women’s hairdressing salon. The film picks up on the fact that they are often looked down on as frivolous places for women to gossip about pointless trivialities. But in reality they’re often centres of the community and a lifeline particularly to the older generations. This generational aspect is also highlighted, albeit in a round-about comedic way which I won’t spoil here.

Deadly Cuts 2021 O’Sullivan Productions

The low budget, slightly pantomime feel may prove sticky for those who aren’t a fan of that kind of style but it’s not excessive. Also, a heads-up that the local dialect and accents are thick in enough places to require subtitles if your ear isn’t acutely trained to that.

With Deadly Cuts, writer/Director Rachel Carey has created a bright and fun black comedy which doesn’t take itself too seriously. It manages to keep one foot grounded in the deprivation of the area while still celebrating community spirit and people’s ability to succeed. This film would be great for Saturday night in with a big fluffy towel on your head, massive bowl of popcorn in one hand, and a glass of pink prosecco in the other.

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