Film Review: The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster
Director: Bomani J. Story
In Theaters: 06.09
Some stories are so monumental that we can’t help but retell them over and over again. One such story is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which tackles mob mentality, the natural order and what it means to be a monster. Bomani J. Story’s feature film debut, The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster, draws heavily from the plot of Frankenstein and adds its own ideas, bringing modernity to the classic story.
The film follows Vicaria (Laya DeLeon Hayes), a smart, young girl who has already suffered the loss of half her family due to the gang violence that runs rampant in her neighborhood. After the death of her brother Chris (Edem Atsu-Swanzy), Vicaria steals the body in an attempt to cure death. What comes back from the dead is much more monstrous, though, and goes on a killing rampage. Now Vicaria has to stop her brother’s murder spree while also struggling to keep the local gang leader Kango (Denzel Whitaker) off her back and deal with her father’s (Chad L. Coleman) drug addiction at home.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster delivers heavy-handed drama right from the beginning. Daphne Qin Wu’s cinematography establishes the tone with beautiful shots of a peaceful neighborhood mutilated with blood splatter. Her visual storytelling continues to create tension throughout the entire movie.
Unfortunately, the film’s script is much cruder. The film not-so-subtly weaves in modern issues that marginalized communities face such as gang violence, systemic oppression and police brutality. The treatment of these themes lacks delicacy, and they are instead shoved down the audience’s throat through explicit and repetitive dialogue. This creates a story structure that is all over the place, trying to prove its own point instead of focusing on a thrilling narrative.
Horror films are best when the audience cares about the characters and roots for their survival until the credits roll. Wise readers know that the mad scientist is the real monster in Frankenstein, but here Vicaria is an innocent, young girl who never has to face the consequences of her actions. Deleon Hayes performs her role with vigor and brings an array of complex emotions to the screen. The character lacks the moral nuance that is vital for our Dr. Frankenstein stand-in.
The messy plot is a vehicle for a traditional monster movie featuring sequences of body horror, classic monster chases and good ol’ axe fights. The political commentary in The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster takes a backseat to Atsu-Swanzy’s terrifying, stridulous moans and looming, monstrous presence. This movie works well as a classic b-flick horror film but falls flat with its larger aspirations. –Morgan Keller