Bad Hair

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Bad Hair Movie Poster Image
Funny satire has social commentary, gore, sex, and language.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 102 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 17+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's important to be yourself and be loyal to your heritage, your friends, and mentors, even in the face of societal or workplace pressures to look or behave a certain way. This can have added layers for Black people raised and indoctrinated with Western European values, who also sometimes face pressure and judgment from within the Black community. Gentrification can have negative effects for current residents of a neighborhood, and Black culture can be appropriated and adapted for the white mainstream. Folk tales from African slaves may hold relevance for people today. References to plantations remind us that people believed they owned both property and people.

Positive Role Models

Anna is a smart and hard-working professional who's regularly passed up for promotions. When a new boss suggests a hair weave would help her move up in the company, she takes the opportunity. She's kind and means well, but her hair makes her commit atrocious acts, as it does for other women with weaves. Anna's boyfriend treats her badly. Her landlord tries to rape her. Her highly-educated family are supportive and loving, though they don't fully understand her chosen profession. Her former boss and mentor, Edna, models integrity.

Violence

Anna has a painful scar on the back of her head from a hair treatment that burned her hair when she was a little girl. Women who get hair weaves at a specific salon find they're in severe pain. Anna even passes out during her treatment. The hair seems to take on a life of its own. It drinks human blood, stabs and strangles various characters, and it makes the women behave violently and kill people in various ways. The women are said to have witches in their heads, and they behave like glowing-eyed zombies. There are some gory scenes that involve scissors, an axe, a broken wine glass, a high heel shoe, and a gun that turns out to be a cigarette lighter. A man tries to rape a woman.

Sex

One sex scene is relatively explicit, with a man and a woman naked in bed having relations (they appear naked or in undergarments, and no private parts are shown). There's discussion of "hooking up," cheating, having relations in a dressing room, and putting "sugar" in a woman's "candy box." A woman appears to begin masturbating in bed. A man threatens to reveal intimate secrets of his ex-girlfriend.

Language

Various forms of "s--t," "f--k," "bitch," and "ass." Sexual language includes "black p--sy" and "ride that d--k." A Black woman uses the "N" word to refer to a Black man. "God," "Jesus," and "hell" are used as exclamations.

Consumerism

Anna works for a Black-focused competitor to an MTV-like music video channel in 1989. She struggles to pay her rent and begins to earn more money when she gets a very expensive hair treatment. There's talk of rents going up when "white folks start moving in."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Anna smokes cigarettes. Her drunk landlord gets violent with her, and people assume he slipped to his death off a rooftop found littered with gin bottles. Adults drink wine and champagne at events and at home.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bad Hair is a horror film with comedic undertones and social messages whose gorier scenes, sex, and language are for mature audiences only. In the film, parasitic hair weaves feed off of people's blood, including the main character's menstrual blood and others the hair kills along the way. The women with the weaves are possessed to kill, which they do in gory scenes involving all manner of sharp implements. Having said that, most are good people underneath the killer hair, and the main character repents for the killings as soon as they happen. In one scene, her hair stabs a man trying to rape her, and in another she's possessed to kill a man while having sex. Women are strangled by the hair or pushed to the floor, where their heads make crunching noises and their blood splatters. There's some drinking and cigarette smoking, and language is mature, including explicit language uttered in sex scenes. There are various forms of "s--t," "f--k," "bitch," and "ass." Sexual language includes "black p--sy" and "ride that d--k." A Black woman uses the "N" word to refer to a Black man. "God," "Jesus," and "hell" are used as exclamations.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 15 years old Written byDaisyLily November 11, 2020

Mhm okay...

So this movie was extremely funny to me. But it wasn't really from the actually actors, it more of the reaction of the weave attacking people. Beware some... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byDogcat November 2, 2020

Bad Hair Day!

No one should watch horror movies! Usher is in this also!

What's the story?

In BAD HAIR, from Dear White People director Justin Simien, the unassuming Anna (Elle Lorraine) works at a Black-focused music TV channel in 1989 Los Angeles. She's chronically underpaid and overlooked, including by her boyfriend, VJ star Julius (Jay Pharoah), though Anna is valued by her supervisor, Edna (Judith Scott) and workmates, all Black women. When a new boss (Vanessa Williams) suggests Anna could do better professionally under her if she had long, flowing locks instead of her natural hair, Anna takes her up on the idea and goes to the renowned Virgie's (Laverne Cox) for an expensive hair weave. That's when strange things start happening. Some of the other women at work are critical of her new weave, and the painful new hair seems to take on a life of its own. It begins controlling Anna, leading her to vengeful acts and ultimately putting her own life in danger.

Is it any good?

A funny satire that's equal parts comedy and camp horror, Bad Hair boasts a clever script, an entertaining period setting, and a fantastic all-star cast. Beneath the gore, which is mostly -- though not entirely -- contained to a third-act slasher sequence, there's quite a lot of social commentary. The new white male boss (James Van Der Beek) assigned to overhaul an all-Black TV channel is made out to be a kind of modern-day plantation owner. His top executive (Williams) has light skin and flowing hair, prompting lots of self questioning and mutual judging among the Black women on staff (including a hilarious Lena Waithe). The laden process of assimilating by taking on a whiter European appearance boils beneath the surface, and there's talk of "us" and "them."

The film takes place in a late-'80s MTV-style channel targeting Black audiences. The saturated look of the film and the playing with camera angles (above, below, circling characters) feels straight out of the '80s, though the story could easily take place today, which viewers might be reminded of by the present-day celebrity cast, including Usher, Waithe, Blair Underwood, Kelly Rowland, and Cox, among others. Underwood, as Anna's scholarly Uncle Amos, has a key scene in the film where he talks about how a people can be subjugated when their science, faith, and wisdom are all undermined. In Bad Hair, women are suppressed, mistreated, and ignored, all due to the devaluing of natural attributes like their hair.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the premise for Bad Hair. Have you ever thought about how appearances, and specifically hair, can affect a person's professional career and acceptance in society? Do you have any personal experience with this?

  • The film references a book of African slave folk tales. Do you think these were real or made up, or a combination? Where could you go to find more information? Parents, you can talk to your kids about the history of slavery.

  • Bad Hair has messages about the Black experience in America as well as about women in the professional world. How would you define some of those messages?

  • Why do you think the film was set in 1989? What struck you as different from today?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love African American stories

Themes & Topics

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