Supernatural Weaves Cause Mayhem in the Bad Hair (2020) Music Television Industry
Title: Bad Hair
First Wide Release: October 23, 2020 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Justin Simien
Writer: Justin Simien
Runtime: 102 Minutes
Starring: Zaria Kelley, Corinne Massiah, Elle Lorraine
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Set in the 1980s, Bad Hair tells the story of Anna (Elle Lorraine) who purchases a weave with the intention of getting ahead in her career. Unfortunately for her, the cost of getting a new hairdo might be far more than what she paid upfront. Soon her hair takes a life of its own and begins attacking and consuming the life-forces of other people. Justin Simien’s second feature, Bad Hair is a horror-comedy that will surprise you.
An audacious and original idea with shaky execution, Bad Hair is a fun B-movie rooted in the comedic and fantastic.
Everything about Bad Hair’s setup is intriguing and unique. 1989 Los Angeles is the backdrop for this supernatural horror-comedy. Simien employs fantastic worldbuilding and storytelling as he sells his audience on the meat of the film. The journey comes differently than other similar films which is refreshing. It progresses at a fine pace, the dialogue feels natural from the cast and flows well within the script, and overall, it’s just fun!
The casting and acting in Bad Hair is top-notch and is the absolute best thing the film has going for it. Lorraine kills it as Anna. I love her character because of the raw earnestness and kindness that she exudes before subsequently being undone by the villainy of her new hair. Her character arc is gradual yet satisfying. From docile and innocent to power-hungry and cutthroat, Anna must fight off the influence of her power if she decides that doing the right thing is more important than her career. Judith Scott and Vanessa Williams’s characters and performances are notable as well and both Laverne Cox and Kelly Rowland have memorable bit roles.
Bad Hair is awash in a classic 80s aesthetic. From the costuming to the setting and everything in between, it is clear that the filmmakers did their research to ensure that Bad Hair is rooted in realism. Realism aside from the haunted hair of course. Even the camerawork is reminiscent of the style of shots back in the day. Due to its setting, it also has some great music that feels right at home at the peak of late 80s hits.
Some technical aspects of Bad Hair do cut it down a few notches. A few editing choices feel bizarre and make scenes a bit confusing on what is happening. The effects are beyond cheesy, but this feels more forgivable as it is a sillier kind of movie. It never feels too distracting or too SyFy original movie, but it does venture into questionable territory at times. The killer weave itself makes for some memorable moments, with only some dubious cgi present.
Simien makes it clear exactly what kind of film he wants to make. The characters are quirky, the situations are comedic, and the horror isn’t always expected. It’s a goofy movie much like the B-movies it emulates. It never takes itself too seriously and Simien goes all in on his premise. At times, Bad Hair does seem a bit long and some scenes feel like they could be excised for a brisker runtime. Now, this feeling doesn’t happen often but it is worth mentioning. Regardless, Simien does a great job of making a solid horror-comedy befitting of its premise.
While Bad Hair is primarily a fun Black horror film, it does touch on the gender and race politics Black women face in professional and social environments. Anna couldn’t get ahead until she changed her hair, appearance, and persona. Opportunities began opening up to her as soon as she changed herself to fit those norms. Black women, especially young Black girls, grow up with these messages, and it's still seen today: dress codes at work and school, media commentary, social networks, etc. As a white man, I don’t have the range to talk about this in a way that a Black woman could. I do want to end by saying I really love when Edna (Juidth Scott) declares that every woman should be able to wear their hair any way they please. That is the truth and I hope society progresses accordingly.
Bad Hair will be the oddball horror movie of the year. It’s not uproariously funny nor is it all too scary, but it still has a peculiar charm about it that keeps it interesting until the end. I found myself entertained and amazed at the kickass casting for such an under the radar film. Anyone who prefers their horror light and wants something a little bit different, Bad Hair will not disappoint. Even though it doesn’t hit the horror marks for me it is still a worthwhile experience. If you don’t brush it off for its wacky premise, I assure you there will be moments when your wig will indeed fly.
Overall Score? 6/10