Bad hair (Movie Review)

Justin Simien, best known for writing “Dear White People” and “Dear Black People 2,” returns with “Bad Hair,” a Hulu horror-satire about an evil weave worn by Kelly Rowland, James Van Der Beek, Jay Pharoah, and Vanessa Williams. Premiering October 23 as a two-hour series, “Bad Hair” opens in 1989 with Anna (Elle Lorraine) working at the Black music TV network Culture. Anna’s boss encourages her to get a straightened look, leading her to visit Virgie (Laverne Cox) for a weave. Unfortunately, the weave turns out to be evil and takes control of Anna.

Satirical Commentary on Eurocentric Beauty Standards

“Bad Hair” is an intelligent and timely horror film addressing the cultural norms and experiences specific to Black women. With its satirical commentary on their conditioning to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards, the movie adds something unique to the genre. However, it needs to explore this issue more profoundly and relies heavily on jump scares and cheap laughs.

Anna’s Struggle in the Image-Focused World of Music Television

The film follows Elle Lorraine as Anna, an idealistic young woman striving to realize her dreams in the late ’80s music television industry. Workplace prejudice against her natural hair hinders her progress, leading her to get a weave to boost her career. Unfortunately, the weave turns out to be evil and begins to control Anna herself.

Inconsistent Execution of Social Commentary and Horror Elements

While “Bad Hair” offers some social commentary on Eurocentric beauty standards and the experiences of Black women with hair lore, it fails to fully address these themes. Instead, the movie leans more towards jump scares and cheap thrills, making the horror elements somewhat confusing and obscure. The incorporation of folklore also feels dissatisfying.

1989 Los Angeles and Black Culture References

Justin Simien successfully captures the essence of 1989 Los Angeles and incorporates many references to classic horror flicks in “Bad Hair.” The predominantly black cast adds to the blaxploitation-y vibe, creating a sense of place. However, the film falls short in exploring the complex relationship between Black culture and hair extensions like weave and how Black women perceive wearing them.

Thought-Provoking Narrative with Room for Improvement

Simien, known for his ability to render complex Black American experiences into entertaining stories, explores the complexity of Black women through “Bad Hair.” The film utilizes genre filmmaking techniques to craft an entertaining yet thought-provoking narrative reminiscent of directors like Spike Lee. However, the movie’s messages about harmful beauty standards and psychological harm get lost among the expected jump scares, cheap laughs, and high body count.