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Review: 'Bad Hair' is Just Bad

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Oct 23, 2020
Usher in 'Bad Hair'
Usher in 'Bad Hair'  

Directed by Justin Simien ("Dear White People"), "Bad Hair" is an early '90s throwback horror movie that begins with some promise, but devolves into silliness that isn't punctuated by any sort of knowing the point of view.

The year is 1989, and Annie (Elle Lorraine) is a struggling assistant trying to make her way up on a music television channel that is, as one would expect, image-obsessed. When new boss Zora (Vanessa Williams) arrives on the scene, she isn't smitten with the plain Annie and suggests the girl get a new weave at a shop she recommends. After a particularly painful appointment, Annie starts getting the attention she desperately wanted — and needed. Her career begins to blossom, and her confidence swells.

But there's a price.

You see, the weave sort of has a mind of its own, and when Annie's apartment manager starts to force himself on her, the weave takes care of the situation in a horrifyingly violent way. And he won't be the last to feel her hair's wrath. Not only that, Annie realizes she isn't the only one with a demonic hairpiece.

While this is supposed to be a mix of comedy and horror, Simien does not combine the two to any sort of effective result. The horror is fairly silly (it's CGI hair that attacks people), but that inherent silliness could have been played up in a delightfully campy way. Simien tries, but you can see those moments fall flat because that tone hasn't been established. The result is a film that isn't funny, isn't scary, and whose point of view isn't well-drawn.

There is an ancient "slave tale" that Annie is given by her father (Blair Underwood) called "The Moss Haired Girl," but it isn't pulled into the story in any meaningful way, which is confusing for a writer and director who is a master of social commentary.

Add to this some pretty bad special effects, and you have a tepid TV movie that really does seem like it's from thirty years ago.

Even more head-scratching is the cast, which has cameos by Usher, Kelly Rowland, Lena Waithe, James Van Der Beek, Laverne Cox, and more. I'm not sure what drew them to the project, but here they are.

There is a good idea and an interesting message underneath this "Bad Hair." It just needed to have its comedy and horror woven into its social commentary in a way that would be both entertaining and effective.

"Bad Hair" premieres on Hulu on October 23rd.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.

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