Saturday 24 October 2020

Bad Hair (Movie Review)

Justin Simien is perhaps best known as the talent behind the critically-acclaimed movie and TV show, Dear White People. But in his latest film, Bad Hair, he applies some of the social commentary and dry wit that other film was known for, into what is essentially a supernatural horror film about a killer weave. I'm sure we've all had or heard stories of particularly bad hair days, but trust me when I say it doesn't get much worse than this.

Set in 1989, the film follows Anna (Elle Lorraine), a young woman working as a production assistant at a music television station. She has always longed for the opportunity to get to host and produce her own show, but her goal remains well out of arms reach. This has something to do with her nappy hair, which she has left untreated ever since a childhood hair relaxer burn left her scarred.

But when the TV station receives a new executive producer named Zora (Vanessa Williams), Anna finally gets a chance to go up the corporate ladder amidst a major rebranding. And when she gets cautioned by the new boss about the state of her hair, she decides to face her fears and get a weave. But following a very excruciating appointment at a fancy salon, she gets more than she'd bargained for when the hair starts to take on a life of its own.

Bad Hair is at its best when it fully leans into the ridiculousness of its premise. The film exudes a low-budget horror movie style that is further enhanced by its late 80s setting. If only it had done so more often, especially during the earlier portions of the film, which was marred by pacing issues. There were also times when it was unclear whether the events unfolding in the movie were meant to be taken at face value.

There was no doubt a lot of social commentary under the depiction of the literally horrors black women have to go through just to look acceptable in our various societies. But I feel the movie could have done a better job at presenting those ideas without the connection being either too vague or telegraphed too heavily. This is a delicate balance that some of the best horror directors are able to maintain in their works, and that is the yardstick I am using to measure this particular one.

Bad Hair ultimately offers enough laughs and cheap scares for me to recommend it to anyone looking for a horror comedy to watch during the lead up to Halloween. Just don't go in expecting it to be the next Get Out or Night of the Living Dead.