The Reel Review

C

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.

Yaani King Mondschein, Elle Lorraine and Lena Waithe in Bad Hair.

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.

Vanessa Williams and Elle Lorraine in Bad Hair

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.

REEL FACTS

Elle Lorraine

• 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.

Video & Photo

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