‘Dear White People’ Director Justin Simien Updates On Horror Film ‘Bad Hair’

Hard to believe it’s been four years since Justin Simien burst on the scene with his incendiary race comedy, Dear White People. The film arrived just on the edge of the whole “woke” movement and talked about racism in a way that was funny, pointed, and controversial. He’s been busy the last couple of years with a TV series version of the film on Netflix, but in 2017 he did announce his next film would be the horror Bad Hair. Now Simien is out there talking up his sophomore effort as a feature film director.

“This is my way of writing a love letter about all of the B.S. that black women have to go through,” Simien told ET recently, adding that he was raised by black women in Texas after his father died.  “So, I named all the women in this story after my mom and my aunts.”

Inspired by the South Korean horror film The Wig, Simien says he rooted the idea in black culture in order to make it speak for American audiences. He tells IndieWire

“[‘Bad Hair’] follows a girl from Compton who doesn’t have the right look. She doesn’t have the right hair, she doesn’t have the right face, she doesn’t have the right skin color. She wants to be a VJ in the late ’80s, early ’90s and she makes a bit of a Faustian bargain with this woman who takes over the network where she’s at and she ends up with this hair, this weave in her head, that may or may not have a mind of its own.”

“It’s my way of taking my frustration of what I feel like black woman are going through, who we rely on for so much – politically, culturally, just in terms of the family dynamic – and we put them through hell.We make them suffer quiet little deaths just to be seen in our culture and I wanted to translate that, in my own way, into a very weird horror-satire love letter to that experience.”

Simien has been writing the script while working on Dear White People‘s second season, and now it’s ready enough that production can begin this summer. Hair is a touchy subject in black culture, especially among women, and I want to see if Simien can approach this with the intelligence of his prior work. I wonder if he’ll check out Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair for insight? Judging by the title my guess is that he already has.

Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.

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