Set in 1980s Los Angeles, Anna Elle Lorraine) has worked at Culture, a pop-culture TV channel with a predominantly African-American staff and viewership, for four years. When Edna (Judith Scott), Anna’s mentor and head of programming leaves due to creative differences, Zora (Vanessa Williams) steps in to revamp culture and offers Anna opportunities that have till now been out of reach. When Zora recommends Anna hop on the new trend of sewn-in weaves, it’s more than a new hairdo that she receives.
Anna starts to be recognised and acknowledged for her work and her new style, and things are starting to finally look up, when she is attacked by her landlord and her hair comes alive, stabbing him and drinking his blood. Anna looks to an old folklore story and soon realises what she is dealing with.
From the casting to the wardrobe to the editing and the David Lynch-inspired colour palette, this film is exquisite. It’s hard to believe that lead actress Elle Lorainne has extremely little on-screen experience as she perfectly sets the mood for every scene; going from fearful and hopeless to angry and smug, she smashes every moment. This extends to all of the casting, notably Vanessa Williams, who channels Wilhelmena Slater (Ugly Betty), delivering hilarious dialogue while remaining fabulously terrifying.
This isn’t so much a jump-scare horror – viewers will not be screaming out loud – but they will have nightmares from the visuals. A particularly unsettling moment involves hairdresser Virgie (Laverne Cox) sewing in Anna’s weave. One would be hard-pressed to find a sequence that portrays physical pain so well. The editing and close-ups put the audience right in the chair and they’ll feel their scalps burning before the scene is over. Director Justin Simein masterfully borrows tropes from 1980s cinema such as Blue Velvet, but without ever risking being derivative.
Bad Hair is an electric addition to the horror-comedy genre, blending folklore with modernity, and is arguably one of the most visually-impressive films of the year.
Bad Hair is released digitally on demand on 5th July 2021.
Watch the trailer for Bad Hair here: