The Reel Review
Elle Lorraine (Insecure) stars in this Hulu original horror/comedy set in 1989, as a shy young black woman who gets hair extensions to further her career at an image-obsessed, MTV-styled music TV network. She soon discovers her new killer weave is literally… a killer.
Writer/director Justin Simien (Dear White People) presents an intriguing premise – using humor and horror to symbolize the damaging physical and psychological effects black women have endured to create hairstyles that conform to white people’s standards. And he does it with a slew of big name stars – Vanessa Williams, Blair Underwood, Usher, Lena Waithe, Kelly Rowland and Laverne Cox.
And although Bad Hair does have its share of chuckles, clever moments and a compelling performance from Lorraine, as a whole, the film is way too light on both genres, instead devolving into a super silly, self-consciously campy story by its finale. It is also weighed down by some really hokey visual effects and a clumsy story with a few too many split ends to give it lift.
• Starting at age of 6, Houston-born Elle Lorraine was raised by her aunt, who at 19, was a prima ballerina at the city’s High School for the Performing Arts. Lorraine herself would later attend, where Bad Hair director Justin Simien was a schoolmate.
• Vanessa Williams and Usher previously worked together in the 1999 film Light It Up.
• Writer/director Justin Simien’s 2014 film Dear White People, and subsequent Netflix TV series, focuses on escalating racial tensions at a fictitious, prestigious Ivy League college from the perspective of black students.