Justin Simien, Writer/Director of the hit film and show Dear White People, has already begun casting for his upcoming horror debut. While talking to Indiewire, Simien chatted about his hit Netflix show, his transition into horror and the importance of black faces in film.
In recent years, the horror genre has seen a shift into mainstream culture. What was once an underdog genre is now being widely accepted. This can be attributed to the introduction of rich, heavy themed, storylines.
Films like Get out, Hereditary, and A Quiet Place tackle the horror genre in a more artful way. This change has drawn in a new wave of diverse horror fans through social and emotional commentary. Even the box office is noticing the momentum; You can’t deny, people love a good horror movie!
Simien is not one to shy away from controversy. His second season of Dear White People – which is now streaming on Netflix – tackled racial issues with satire. Simien called the show highly stylized with a “presentational” visual style and a score that matches.
“The cinema I grew up with didn’t have black people in it, and with very few exceptions,” said Simien to Indiewire. “Spike [Lee] and Ernest Dickerson, in particular with Do The Right Thing, brought a lot of the French New Wave, brought stuff from silent movies, just brought to bare a lot of cinematic techniques that before them no person of color would ever find themself in. You have to go back to Oscar Micheaux before you can see anything that looks like cinema with black people in it, or that’s about central black characters.”
His new venture will be a satire-horror film with the same feel as Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Get Out.
“Bad Hair follows a girl from Compton who doesn’t have the right look,” said Simien. “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.”
Simien also said Bad Hair would honor his mother, aunts and the other black women in his life.
“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,” 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.”
As a fan of Dear White People, I think Bad Hair will be a beautifully crafted dark-comedy horror. I imagine it being in the same satire as an episode of Tales From the Crypt, Creepshow, Tales From the Hood, etc. With his score influenced by Stanley Kubrick, Bad Hair could be a wickedly fun time.
Shooting for Bad Hair begins this summer.
What do you think of this change up from Dear White People? Are you excited to see Simien’s horror debut? Let us know in the comments.