The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster: Boston Underground Film Festival
ir. Bomani J. Story (2023)
A young girl is on a quest to cure death, but some things are better off dead.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Bomani J. Story has a potential hit on his hands with his feature debut, The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster, a modern-day retelling of Frankenstein in an urban setting. Vicaria (Laya DeLeon Hayes) is a high-schooler who has lost her brother, Chris (Edem Atsu-Swanzy) to violence and has grown up in a world full of crime and poverty. Her entire community struggles with the police, the drugs, and even the racist teacher who refuses to pronounce her name correctly. Her father (Chad L. Coleman) is a junkie, a victim of circumstance and the street’s most dangerous drug dealer, Kango (Denzel Whitaker). Through it all, though, she realizes that cancer, violence, and all of the struggles of her life are mere symptoms of the real disease: death. She’s a smart girl, way smarter than her circumstances would dictate, and she is determined to solve the problem of death once and for all.
Story does a fantastic job with this film, making a truly scary story about loss, love, and the dangers of trying to overcome the inevitability of nature. He also points out, through his lead character Vicaria, that societal struggles are definitely able to be overcome if you work hard and keep your head down, and if you’re a little bit lucky. Vicaria is smart, a brilliant student and a dedicated scientist who is determined to reach her goal, despite a drug-addicted father and a dead brother who have already fallen victim to the ills of her community. Her father, for all of his weaknesses, is doing his best to be a good dad, standing up to the systemic racism in her school to defend her at all costs, demanding better treatment for his one child who is left. Chris’ girlfriend, who is pregnant with his child, has her own family dramas, and her family unit serves as Vicaria’s surrogate family that can help take care of her when the rest of her world is falling apart.
The commentary is laid on fairly thick, but in an incredibly effective way. The violence of the streets is inescapable, and while it would be easy to paint the police as the real villains of society, Story does a great job of showing that there are no real innocent victims here. However, his deft handling of Chris’ recreation as a monster is intelligent and swaying: he is a monster because society calls him a monster. He became what he was demanded to become. The parallels with Black society are hard to ignore, and the commentary is spot-on. It is, after all, impossible to separate the problems in the Black community from the societal causes that have echoed throughout, the issues that are, to this day, largely ignored by the people who could actually make a difference. No matter how a community may struggle to gain acceptance and escape their circumstances, it’s going to take more than good ideas from within that community to make a lasting difference.
While The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is far from the best socially-conscious horror film, it’s an incredible first effort from Story. It’s well-shot, well-told, and it even has some stellar gore, which I wasn’t expecting if I’m being honest. The effects are really good, and the story is one that’s worth telling, a reimagining of a classic story that is legitimately well done. The film is hitting film festivals, as I’m once again covering for the Boston Underground Film Festival, and it’s one that is absolutely worth a watch for fans of the genre. This is one that I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see winning awards on the festival circuit.
Who this movie is for: Socially conscious horror fans, Scifi horror lovers,
Bottom line: The messages in the film are loud and clear, and Story shows himself to be an incredibly adept up-and-coming director. The performances are excellent, especially that of the lead Laya DeLeon Hayes, but they’re good all the way down to the smaller parts. It’s a genuinely scary film at times with some excellent gore and special effects, and the writing is phenomenal as well. This one was surprisingly good, and I highly recommend that you check it out if you get the chance