Film Review: Bad Hair

Anna at work

Regardless of how multicultural western societies claim to be, when it comes to Afro-textured hair there’s usually a need for specialist and expert treatment. You can’t just walk into any old salon and be guaranteed the service you require. This isn’t just the case when it comes to cutting and styling, weaving and relaxing. The constant stress placed on kinky hair to get it under control and to follow the latest trends takes a disproportionate toll, sometimes even causing traction alopecia. All these issues are wrapped up in a new horror, Bad Hair.

Set in music television in the late 1980s, Anna (Elle Lorraine) is an ambitious assistant at an African-American station called Culture. When her mentor and head of programming (Judith Scott) is removed by the white owner (James Van Der Beek), she fears for the worst. Her replacement Zora (Vanessa Williams), a former supermodel, is determined to take the channel in a new direction. In order to get onboard, Anna is told she has to have a certain look. You need a weave to succeed.

Whilst Bad Hair takes much of its inspiration from Asian horror (such as Sion Sono’s Exte and Won Shin-yun’s The Wig), it’s firmly rooted in African myth and folklore. Justin Simien picks up many of the threads from Dear White People to create a scathing satire. Whilst the genre elements are purposely over the top and often more amusing than scary, the stylish Bad Hair does a great job of getting its message across.

Bad Hair is released on digital on 5 July, released on DVD and Blu-ray on 12 July.

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