Bad Hair ★★★☆☆
Starring: Elle Lorraine, Kelly Rowland, Lena Waithe, Vanessa Williams
Lowdown: An inspiring TV personality changes her hairstyle to be successful while encountering some very deadly consequences.
MPPA Rating: Unrated
Where to watch: Hulu
Verdict: While speaking on important societal issues for Black women, the movie misses a huge mark in the messages depicted.
Elle Lorraine stars as a young black woman in Los Angeles who wants to become a veejay, Anna Bludsoe. A veejay is someone who introduces and plays popular music videos. Anna has worked at Culture, a music television network station that features black artists, as an assistant for four years. She had hopes of moving up the industry hierarchy, but that dream was shattered when her boss, Edna (Judith Scott), leaves the station to pursue her own network. With her dismissal arrives the new and weave-induced boss, Zora (Vanessa Williams), who flips the entire network upside down. She meets with every employee for a “chat” (which actually turns out to be an interview) and sees if they are fit for the job. Once reaching Anna, she suggested that her natural and kinky hair would not get her to where she wanted to be. So, for her to go up in ranks, Zora recommended that she go to the hair salon and get a weave to better fit the new image of Cult. Anna takes her advice and everything is fine for a while until she starts noticing that the hair has a mind of its own!
“Bad Hair” was released exclusively for streaming on Hulu Oct. 16.
Director Justin Simien brings a new twist to this comedic horror film depicting the Americanized beauty standards for hair all in 102 minutes. Famous for “Dear White People,” Simien jumps on the bandwagon of Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” and “Us” trying to invoke deep subconscious messages for the audience to intake while watching the movie. Unfortunately, he falls flat with this method, leaving so many doors open for improvement, especially in the overall message of the film. At first, the message could be perceived as “the identity of hair is different for each culture, and wearing someone else’s hair on your head could cause you to lose your own identity.” However, as the movie progresses, the message changed drastically to more of a supernatural element.
On the other hand, the “Bad Hair” cast is astronomically full of talented actors and singers. From Anna’s co-worker, Brook (Lena Waithe), to popstar Sandra (Kelly Rowland), and to freakish hair designer, Virgie (Laverne Cox), this cast broadens the spectrum of diversity amongst popular Black films.
When starting her new gig as a production assistant, Anna starts to have more of a say at the company. Her two co-workers, Brook and Sista (Yaani King), are a little jealous because they think the hair has gotten to Anna’s head. Eventually, they assimilate to the straight hairstyle and start to move up the industry chain as well.
This film served as good entertainment with its vibrant cast and the numerous irregular camera angles adding to the genre of horror. Usher’s character, Germane D, though a minor role, played a pivotal part in the buildup of the climactic ending of the movie. Each actor’s portrayal of their characters showcased how comfortable they were with Simien’s directing style and the film’s spoofy horror tone.
Unfortunately, the movie is categorized as horror, but it can honestly be seen as a spoof. At some points during the movie, the acting is terrible. This may be intentional by Simien, but he does not make it very clear for the audience. One scene containing the hair coming alive and attacking someone was extremely inadequate. In addition to that, the special effects definitely needed a bigger budget. In some scenes, the hair could be seen to have the green screen outline on the actress, which shows the lack of attention. So, I had no choice but to believe that this movie was intentionally a spoof horror movie.
Being that this is Simien’s first time directing a movie, this film was decent. There were a few times when the movie felt too long to get to the action of the film. The first incident with Anna’s hair does not happen until the first hour of the movie. Luckily, the funny dialogue and good music by Rowland’s character Sandra can keep the audience entertained and glued to the screen. However, as stated previously, the meaning of the overall movie was not strong enough and could be interpreted in many different ways. For a small number of scenes, it was difficult to differentiate the characters’ names from their faces.
Even with the film’s shortcomings, “Bad Hair” is innovative, funny, and twisted. It is well worth a gander and best played at hair salons.