This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie/series/feature being covered here wouldn't exist.
"The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is an example of what grief can do to someone, and with the use of classic horror tropes, shows how frightening that grief can be."
BY ROMEY NORTON SEPTEMBER 18, 2023
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is a fantasy horror film, written and directed by Bomani J. Story in his directorial debut. It’s loosely based on the story of Frankenstien by Mary Shelley, and whilst many have done this before, Story takes a new approach in giving this tale new life. The film stars Layla Deleon Hayes, Denzel Whitaker and Chad L.Coleman and has a respectable runtime of one hour thirty two minutes.
The story surrounds Vicaria, who is an intelligent, yet rebellious, teenager who believes that death is a disease and can be cured. Vicaria has suffered a lot of pain due to death and clearly seeks a way of coping. Her mother kills herself and her brother is brutally murdered by a gang, and Vicaria embarks on the dangerous, adventurous journey to bring her brother back to life.
A good horror film should disturb its audience, Vicaria’s morbid obsession, and gruesome effects, is disturbing but not constant. The creepiest part is that it’s her brother whose body she digs up, pulls apart and destroys. Once she’s able to bring him back to life, he clearly isn’t the same person and immediately kills someone. This monster she has created brings fear, tension and sadness as underneath the violence he’s looking for help and answers, I just wish there was more of him.
The characters are well crafted who audiences will care about, and the power of love and sisterhood helps drive the narrative. However, when the film focused on the protagonist trying to cure death it was most compelling, and had a lot of promise. At times the film did feel slow, and once the monster was alive I expected more action and gore, and less talking. The monster never develops into a character, you see mere glimpses of him, so he doesn’t add much to the story and I was left wanting more.
The film has themes of systematic failures, and racism - we have two women who have different views and politics.Vicaria’s character is portrayed to be angry at society, and her reaction to this is using her intelligence to resurrect her dead brother. Chris’ girlfriend ignores the racial tensions, accepting what is put in front of her. Chris (the monster) wears a hoodie and has long dreads hanging out, reflecting the way in which young black men are perceived as villains and scary for the way they look.
The ending was a weird happy let down. The filmmakers clearly want to absolve Vicaria, and she brings back to life the people her brother monster has killed. This felt easy, and lacking in bravery the rest of the film captured.
This reimagining of a well-known tale imbeds a contemporary American social critique, and offers a chance for its audience to question what is life and what is death. It’s an example of what grief can do to someone, and with the use of classic horror tropes, shows how frightening that grief can be.