Located next to the butcher’s shop, down the row from the local pub, Deadly Cuts is the hair salon where the women of Piglinstown, Dublin, congregate. It’s a safe space in a rundown town that never feels safe. The gangs, run by Deano (Ian Lloyd Anderson), shakedown just about everyone, leaving the citizens penniless and helpless. Darren Flynn (Aidan McArdle), the local council rep, has a solution: Let the place go to pot and then sell it to upscale developers.

That’s not much help to the likes of Deadly Cuts, they’ve been accepted to compete in Ahh Hair, a prestigious hairstyling competition that could put Piglinstown on the map. But no Piglinstown, no Deadly Cuts. And there’ll be no redemption for Deadly Cut’s owner, Michelle (Angeline Ball), who was once laughed off the Ahh Hair stage when she balded her client before a crowd of thousands. Not something you want to do in a hairstyling competition.

Balding is just one of many travesties given an absurdist spin in writer/director Rachel Carey’s Deadly Cuts. Working with cinematographer JJ Rolfe, Carey lures you with routine cinematic grammar, comedic improvisation, and typical fare: The story of four plucky stylists (Ball, Ericka Roe, Lauren Larkin, and Shauna Higgins) trying to overcome the odds and win the hearts of Ahh Hair and Piglinstown. But Carey is playing possum, and the script turns on a moment of wishful subversion. Carey then piles on black humor by the pound until you get to the visionary hairdresser named D’Logan Doyle (Louis Lovett), who even comes with his own theme song. The longer it goes, the funnier it gets—and the more satisfying.

Deadly Cuts is playing the Seattle International Film Festival through April 18. Header photo courtesy of SIFF.