Creator Justin Simien is set to reunite with his ‘Dear White People film and television team: Julia Lebedev, Eddie Vaisman and Oren Moverman in his newest project, a horror titled Bad Hair. Set in the late 80s/early 90s, the film is about a “girl from Compton who doesn’t have the right look”. In a desperate attempt to attain this look in the hopes of becoming a VJ, she enters into a “Faustian bargain” with a woman, which gives her a trait that may or may not have a mind of its own.
Speaking to IndieWire, the creator describes the film as residing within the same cinematic sphere as classical horror satires like Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Get Out. Simien describes the film as being a dedication to black women, stating:
“It’s my way of taking my frustration of what I feel like black women 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,” said Simien. “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.”
Through his work, Simien has broadened the lens of filmmaking with a “highly stylized visual style” which he refers to as “presentational”. His storytelling is reflective of dynamic relationships, social issues and is continuously challenging the conversation, and expanding the stories that are told by championing the stories of people of color.
What could make this film especially interesting is Simien’s desire to place characters of color in cinematic frames and shots that made him fall in love with film. This notion lends a voice to the already existing debate of how people of color in film, notably horror, are depicted. This is a conversation which was newly invigorated and explored by Jordan Peele’s, Get Out. As a director Simien acknowledges the absence of black stories and voices in the horror genre, crediting Ernest Dickenson and Spike Lee for drawing on silent techniques in film to tell stories about characters of color.
Simien has long been influenced by the genre with him attributing the sound and soundtrack of Dear White People to Stanley Kubrick’s influence:
“Before Kubrick, sure there were a lot of amazing composers, but that desire to make something symphonically that could just stand on its own to just be under a scene, that was not the focus of music in cinema before Kubrick. And what it does, it just adds an artistic richness to it, it’s not just there to tell you what you already know and make you feel what you already feel, it’s there to counter and add to the scenes.”
Details about the film are yet to be released but the film is set to begin production in the summer.
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