Justin Simien scored a hit with the film Dear White People. He returns with Bad Hair, a horror flick that falls short of that other African American filmmaker’s work in the genre.
Of course, the other filmmaker is Jordan Peele. Where Peele’s films are quietly forceful, Simien’s film is a rather noisy, chaotic comedy with horror elements. On so many occasions, it is the horror that causes laughter not the comedy.
Set in 1989, Bad Hair follows Anna (Elle Lorraine) as she attempts to become an on-air personality with her own show on TV. But her boss is replaced by a woman named Zora (Vanessa Williams) who is no fan of Anna’s hair. But Anna is haunted by a childhood episode in which her hair was damaged during a hair-straightening session.
It is when Anna decides on a weave that the movie begins to bring forth its horror elements. The metaphor is easy to understand: the battle to control what a black woman has on her scalp is an actual horrifying battle. That much is clear.
But so much is muddled such that the metaphor is the only thing clear here. Well, that and the one song that Kelly Rowland, playing a music star, gets to sing.