When Justin Simien’s next horror movie Bad Hair premiere at Sundance 2020, the premise ensured it was a hot ticket show: creator and director of Dear White people had made a film about evil braids. In the movie, set in 1989, TV executive Anna (Elle Lorrene) hopes to make it big as a VJ, but her new boss (Vanessa Williams) dismisses her natural hairstyle as occasionally, so Anna suffers through her first weave, in the hands of maven Virgie style (Orange is the new black inclined star Laverne Cox). From there, things go very poorly for Anna and her office.
In the first trailer of the film, Bad Hair plays more like direct horror than anything else. But the current movie is extremely complicated. It̵7;s part of the comedy in the camp, a horrible part of the body, and very much colored with cultural commentary. As Simien said when we talked to him about the movie in Sundance, the wild spread of Korean hair-horror and Get out-social criticism in style may feel strange, but it is completely intentional:
I love movies when there is nothing like them. We had to get used to Brian De Palma. We had to get used to Stanley Kubrick. We had to get used to Roman Polanski – I’m not getting into the horrible nature of his real life and politics. As filmmakers, white men make us learn with the art they make. So part of it is, these things feel right in my soul, so I will unite them in the way it feels towards me. Dear White people was the same way.
When I review some of my favorite movies, I’m surprised – I remember Carrie unlike when I look at it. Same with Shkelqimi, and Body abductors, Dressed to kill, Gentle man. They actually have these wonderful comedy moments with screw and sci-fi and camp moments, elements of movie B. And they just go together. What is the unifying thing for everyone? That director is obsessed with all those things, so they just put them in their movies. That is why dizziness is so brilliant, even though nothing about it makes dirty sense, or should work. Hitchcock was really obsessed with those things. I just wanted to give myself the experience of pursuing this. Especially when it’s like, “No one has tried to do this before, and I’m probably not supposed to do it.” That’s when I’m like, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
Bad Hair arrives in Hulu on October 23rd.