Bad Hair: Review

Screened for the first time in January 2020 at the Sundance film festival, “Bad Hair” is a film written and directed by Justin Simien. Justin Simien is mostly known as the director of the Netflix series “Dear White People” (2017-2021). As a huge fan of horror films of all kinds and various quality, I was bound to be excited after reading the synopsis. 

“In 1989, Anna (played by Elle Lorraine), an ambitious young woman gets a weave in order to succeed in the image-obsessed world of music television. However, her flourishing career may come at a great cost when she realizes that her new hair may have a mind of its own.”  From the first minutes of the film we understand that, in addition to being a horror film, “Bad Hair” will try to denounce the oppression suffered by black women in the 90s, which is a very interesting idea. 

Indeed, the mix of horror and social drama is a combo which works very well in recent years and gives a certain depth to the film.  For example, there is the excellent “Get Out” (2017) by Jordan Peele or “His House” (2020) by Remi Weekes. 

Both of these films rightly use societal elements integrated directly into the film’s narrative to generate horror while intelligently denouncing racism and oppression.  Despite these various elements that only bode well, the film quickly fails in the horror aspect and the characters are mostly very unconvincing.

“Bad Hair” leans too much into comedy to be able to create real horrific stakes. In addition, the very weird special effects, do not help to create true horror and fear. However, the film succeeds in showing in a very original way how black culture was and is used and instrumentalized by white people for profit. It also shows the pressures that black women face in relation to beauty standards through the character of Anna, who will have to change who she really is to have a better chance of success.

The first part of the film works pretty well. The film introduces the character of Anna, her past, her present and the environment in which she evolves.  But as soon as the presence of the cursed hair becomes more frequent and more aggressive, the film progressively loses its scenaristic quality and its interest. The scenario gets very weird, and unfortunately doesn’t seem to be really under control anymore, the various events follow one another in a very curious way. Also, the dubious special effects also reduces the overall quality of the film.   

“Bad Hair” is therefore interesting because of its subject matter and its denunciations, but will probably not satisfy the majority of horror fans. 


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