As if life outside your body wasn’t already scary enough, what if your hair could actually turn on you? That’s the central premise of Justin Simien’s Sundance sensation “Bad Hair,” a throwback horror-satire about a killer weave, and inspired by horror classics of the 1970s and ’80s. Ahead of the film’s Hulu premiere on October 23, the cool and creepy first teaser has arrived. Watch below.
Written and directed by “Dear White People” filmmaker Simien, this 1989-set thriller stars breakout Elle Lorraine as the survivor of a scalp burn from a perm gone wrong. To impress her dreadlocked boss at a music-video TV show, she’s asked to get a weave — but the weave comes with a mind of its own. The movie also stars Vanessa Williams, Lena Waithe, Laverne Cox, Jay Pharoah, Kelly Rowland, Blair Underwood, James Van Der Beek, and Usher Raymond.
“I follow my obsessions down the rabbit hole, and this one began with some conversations about, particularly a sub-genre of Korean horror films that deal with hair horror,” Simien told IndieWire back at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. “I felt like there was a uniquely American story there. I’m obsessed with the ’70s and ’80s psychological thrillers, satirical mashups, Brian De Palma movies, ‘Body Snatchers,’ ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ all those kind of movies.”
Simien took from his favorite horror movies the inspiration to tell a uniquely Black story that he feels is missing from the horror genre. “I felt like I haven’t really seen anything that’s pulling from all those different traditions, but is also Black, and is using those sort of cinematic techniques to interrogate and make us look at the absurdities of what Black women specifically, but what all marginalized people go through,” he said.
But the weave, he added, has cultural and historic ties that are threaded throughout the movie. “It’s a movie about a killer weave — spoiler alert — but the weave itself burst onto the national scene in 1989, specifically through the popularity of Janet Jackson, the ‘Pleasure Principle’ video first but then ‘Rhythm Nation’ and all those amazing Ebony covers,” Simien said.
“Equal parts vintage Brian De Palma thriller and race-centric corporate fashion satire in the spirit of ‘Putney Swope,’ Simien’s ludicrous ’80s-spiced supernatural B-movie doesn’t know when to quit, much like the demonic weave at its center,” according to IndieWire’s review. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, depending on your tastes for demented horror.