Review by Dan Skip Allen
Justin Simien is a young director who put out his first film, Dear White People, in 2014. That film was about a culture war between college students. It had a great message about racial identity and is also about paving a road for yourself without help from family or anybody else for that matter. Bad Hair is quite a different film than that for many reasons.
A young woman (Elle Lorraine) who is struggling to find her way in the cutthroat world of music television decides to get a new hairdo to change her image. She later comes to find out that her hair might have a mind of its own. Part '80s period piece and part horror movie, Bad Hair is something new that hasn't been done before. It's a satire on urban life in America. We've all had bad hair days, but this film takes it to the next level.
Simien has gathered a nice group of character actors, newbies, and musicians for this film. Lena Waithe plays a TV show host, and employees at the station include Vanessa Williams, Kelly Rowland, and Jay Pharoah. They do a superb job supporting the star of the film. Elle Lorraine is a newer actress on the scene. She's had roles in Issa Rae's HBO show Insecure and Simien's previous film Dear White People. She is fantastic in Bad Hair. She makes this role her own.
Based on the urban legend of the Moss-haired Girl, Bad Hair has a tongue-in-cheek look at women who have to have the right look. Hairstyles can help a woman — or a man, for that matter — develop a personality or identity. Different hair for different occasions can be hard to come by. Not if you have a hairstylist who knows what you want and need. Sometimes your hair has a life all of its own. It can get out of control, literally. Simien captures the nature of how important women's hair can be for their overall appearance and style.
2020 hasn't had a lot of great horror films, but Bad Hair is one of them. It plays on the urban legend and the look of a woman trying to make an impression on society. Getting yourself noticed by the right people can be impossible at times. The right hairdo can make or break a woman's career. This film goes the extra length, no pun intended, to show how valuable or dangerous it can be. This was a film poking fun at the people it's about and the time it takes place. The music of Whitney Houston, Paula Abdul, and Aritha Franklin are all on the soundtrack for a reason. That's the vibe this film was going for: a hip hop vibe mixed with '80s pop music. Throw in some horror and you have a fun film.
Bad Hair is now streaming on Hulu.