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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Review: Bad Hair

Director: Justin Simien

Screenplay: Justin Simien

Year: 2020

Hair has been, for a long time, a symbol of beauty and social status. In recent times a change in unrealistic and superficial ideologies has been promoted in the world of fashion, modeling, and other beauty industries, but the stereotypes and unequal treatment are still present. This phenomenon is accentuated in marginalized communities, who have to suffer from being minimized. On top of that, they have to struggle with the beauty standards to have a more dignified treatment. 

Anna (Elle Lorraine; “Insecure”) is a young Afro-American woman who wishes to thrive in the TV channel in which she works. To fit into the new philosophy of the channel, Anna decides to change her image, including weaving fake hair. Her new style has a high cost, as not only does she has to maintain her image, but her new hair seems to have a mind of its own.

The director and screenwriter Justin Simien (“Dear White People”) seeks to deliver a clear message with “Bad Hair”. On the one hand, he shows how marginalized communities, in this case, the Afro-American community in the United States, often have to disguise their identity behind clothing and hairstyles that allow them to comply with society’s beauty standards to have some opportunities. On the other hand, he presents what many people are willing to go through for fame and recognition and its consequences.

Simien extrapolates the negative consequences towards the horror field, interweaving vanity and beauty with the supernatural. Its main strength dwells in the revelation of why the hair acts like it has its own mind, which arrives unexpectedly and unpredictably. The movie also has some good visuals when it goes deeper into the horror aspect, but it doesn’t make the most out of them. 

One of its problems is that it doesn’t know how to define if it wants to be a horror movie or a horror-comedy, and it remains in an ambiguous zone between both. This prevents it from generating a defined tone and that the sudden changes between them feel flat and out of place, especially with the comedy. The special effects also suffer from being inconsistent, with some excellent and others embarrassing, and it feels like in some they were aiming for pure horror, and in other for campy horror, but never got to decide which.

“Bad Hair” in general, is an entertaining movie with a nice plot twist. The social commentary about what people are willing to do to comply with the beauty standard imposed by society and the unequal treatment to marginalized communities is excellently brought forward and it serves as a complement for the horror story it accompanies. However, the inconsistency in the genre it wants to tackle, and the visual effects are a major distraction that hinders its quality.

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