Considered That the Sundance Film Festival specializes in independent, idiosyncratic cinema, it’s home to a great deal of far-outside-the-box visions. At Sundance 2020, few of those visions might compete with the sheer weirdness of Bad Hair, a horror-comedy about an up-and-coming black VJ whose weave develops a taste for blood.
The most current from Dear White Individuals writer-director Justin Simien, Bad Hair is set in 1989 (” the year of the weave,” Simien says), and it stars Elle Lorraine as Anna, a TV executive whose fancy brand-new boss (Vanessa Williams) orders her to update her look or be fired. We sat down with Simien at Sundance to talk about Bad Hair‘s Korean influences, its complex politics, and the difficulties of working with wicked hair.
This interview has been edited for concision and clearness.
You have actually stated Bad Hair was partly inspired by the Korean horror film The Wig, which led you down a course of obsessing over Asian hair-horror. Do you have an individual Best Evil Hair Movies list?
Justin Simien: The Wig and Exte: Hair Extensions are quite hard to beat. Like a lot of great Korean horror movies, they utilize the facility to go into all kinds of locations– like, The Wig is entering into trans issues. They’re both actually out-there movies. It seemed like there was a plan there to create something brand-new, but American, which I was stunned had not took place currently. On the males’s side of things, there was “Hell Toupee,” an episode of Remarkable Stories about a toupee from hell, and [the anthology Body Bags] features a balding man who gets this things that stimulates evil hair. I thought, “That’s fascinating territory for a motion picture.”
And then the next action for me was to discover really smart black woman and ask, “Hey, I’m not a black female, however I seem like I have something to say here. What are your experiences?” So I spoke to ladies who were getting weaves in1989 The weave styling, the method we do Anna’s hair in the film, is the strategy of the time, aside from the blood and the witchcraft. As horrifying as the weave strategies sounded to me, the genuine horror I wanted to express was the sensation that black women constantly have to select between themselves and their aspirations.
Coming as you are is never the first choice. You need to find out, “What do they desire?” And after that, “What parts of myself do I need to cut off to fit in the box of what they want?” That’s the horror that ladies were interacting to me, and that’s when I got thrilled about this film, because now we’re talking about a system. We’re not moralizing a lady’s choice, we’re checking out a system where choices exist, however are they ever truly options? If you’re informed, “Get a weave or be fired, is that an option?”
Bad Hair‘s tone is so complex– it’s camp, it’s a drama about cultural appropriation and racial discrimination, there’s gory body horror. How did you navigate putting all these various things on top of each other?
We had to get used to Roman Polanski– I’m not going into the horrific nature of his real life and politics. Dear White Individuals was the same method.
When I rewatch some of my preferred motion pictures, I’m stunned– I keep in mind Carrie in a different way from when I see it. Same with The Shining, and Body Snatchers, Dressed To Kill, The Wicker Guy That’s why Vertigo is so brilliant, even though nothing about it makes any fucking sense, or should work.
What’s associated with directing a wicked weave? Some of the hair effects in Bad Hair are CGI, but you utilize a great deal of puppetry and stop-motion practical results, too.
The business that did it is called Alterian. Tony Gardner, who innovated a great deal of special results, we had a discussion early on about how the concept is nuts, so we got ta ground individuals in a truth that feels physical. Between shooting on film and utilizing genuine hair, it felt like the kind of moviemaking I grew up thinking I would get to do. Not remaining in an antibacterial computer lab where you’re typing information and seeing things on the screen. I matured enjoying George Lucas essentially have fun with what appeared like toys to make Star Wars, and Steven Spielberg working with puppets. It felt like a fun method to make the motion picture. However it’s also a method to ground the ridiculousness of it. As incredible as it is, you’re seeing it occurring. Even when we’re highlighting the results shots with digital results, there’s that base there of real hair, actually doing things– actually grabbing people, actually braiding itself.
What’s your best hair-wrangling story?
There was simply hair all over, all the time. We really had to examine the gate, due to the fact that usually there was hair in the gate. [Laughs] On this film, hair was just in all sorts of locations you didn’t believe hair ought to be.