Without any statistical proof, I’m willing to bet that at least 90% of my African American female readers can share a horror story, or two, about a negative hair experience. My worst story involves many years of bad childhood “kitchen beauticians,” that have left me with extremely thin to nil edges and a strong penchant for wearing my hair natural. And don’t get me started on the corporate politics and negative social responses I’ve dealt with because of that latter preference.
So, when I first learned the premise of the new Hulu horror/satire BAD HAIR, written and directed by Justin Simien (Dear White People), I was more than intrigued.
Here’s the synopsis: In this horror satire set in 1989, BAD HAIR follows an ambitious young woman (Elle Lorraine) who gets a weave in order to succeed in the image-obsessed world of music television. However, her flourishing career comes at a great cost when she realizes that her new hair may have a mind of its own.
The only thing I didn’t enjoy about this film was the extra campiness in the third act. But I really enjoyed Simien’s clever approach – that he admits was inspired by his discovery of Asian hair possession movies – highlighting the social and political constraints of wearing natural hair within a horror story.
And when Anna (Lorraine) sits in Virgie’s (Laverne Cox) chair to get a sew-in, her facial expressions and the haunting score make the audience cringe at the sight of Virgie’s tight braiding and Anna’s sensitive scalp.
It was also clever to place the setting in the late 80’s, a period where modelesque beauty and big hair don’t care attitudes reigned supreme, and the video television world still ruled – giving a believable backdrop for Anna’s desire to change her look and climb the TV industry ladder.
And the casting is dynamic with the likes of the aforementioned as well as Vanessa L. Williams, Jay Pharoah, James Van Der Beek, Lena Waithe, Blair Underwood, Chante Adams, Kelly Rowland, Yaani King Mondschein, and Usher Raymond IV – just to name a few.
But be forewarned again, I think it becomes overly campy in the final act. Yet, the story is solid, the themes and experiences (outside of the demonic hair) real, and there are a couple of scenes that exhibit more scary than comedy.
All in all, the film is entertaining and engaging until the end. I rate it 3.5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
Until next thought, Thomasena