Synopsis: Vicaria is a brilliant teenager who believes death is a disease that can be cured. After the brutal murder of her brother, she embarks on a dangerous journey to bring him back to life.
Starring: Laya DeLeon Hayes, Chad L. Coleman, and Denzel Whitaker
Director: Bomani J. Story
Where to Watch: In theaters and On-Demand
Date of Release: In select theaters on June 9th. On-Demand and streaming on June 23rd.
Length of Time: 140 mins
An Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is a powerful and thought-provoking movie exploring racial injustice and socioeconomic inequality. The movie tells the story of a young black girl struggling to navigate a world that often feels stacked against her. Despite her many challenges, she refuses to let her spirit be broken and instead finds solace in her studies and her pursuit of finding the cure for death…resurrection.
Laya DeLeon Hayes brilliantly plays Vicaria, a poster child for STEM in the Black community. She is not only brilliant but also confident and loves her family…qualities we want to see more of in Black youth. She shares a close bond with her father, Donald (played by Chad L. Coleman) who struggles with drug addiction after the loss of both his wife and son, Chris. What is so interesting about the dynamic of Donald and Vicaria’s relationship is that even though Donald struggles with addiction, Vicaria still supports her father and is not ashamed of him. After all, they both have an addiction; hers is simply science-focused.
Denzel Whitaker as the local drug dealer, Kango, is a character who is not reduced to just a lowly drug dealer. We see his character has more layers than he puts off. Only Whitaker could make this role work in this type of film. During an interview with director Bomani J. Story and actor Chad L. Coleman, we learn that Whitaker is one of the reasons some of the cast joined the project in the first place, including Coleman himself.
What makes An Angry Black Girl and Her Monster compelling is its unflinching honesty. The movie doesn’t shy away from complex topics, but instead dives headfirst into issues like police brutality, racial profiling, and poverty. Through its nuanced and thought-provoking storytelling, it encourages viewers to think critically about the systems of oppression in our society and consider how we can work together to bring about real change. I found the film intriguing because there is no real antagonist; like in the real world, for these characters there are only obstacles and their reactions based on their experiences.
The film also touches on how Black men view themselves and their mental health. This is artistically depicted in Donald’s transitions into Chris, his Frankenstein-type monster. This is one specific reason why I feel a connection to the film and believe it could be used as a discussion piece for many others who want to have the discussion but don’t know where to begin.
In addition to its powerful message, An Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is a wonderfully crafted movie. Its visual style is stunning with vibrant colors and intricate details that make each scene feel like a work of art. I applaud Costume Designer Cailey Breneman for the unique and creepy look of the monster, Chris, who is absolutly terrifying. Many gory horror films have cheap props and, instead of grossing out audiences, cause people to laugh or think “a 5-year old could do better”. That is not the case in this film, as the death scenes look convincingly real and can traumatize you if you are not a fan of gore. Story’s feature film debut is a success, lending him a promising future in the realm of not only horror but any genre into which he decides to venture.
Overall, An Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is a must-see movie that should be part of the cultural conversation. From the onset of the Black Lives Matter movement in July of 2013 up to recent events, this movie challenges us to take a hard look at our world and strive toward a better, more equitable future. I don’t expect all audiences to understand the film’s underlying messages and themes; however, I do expect the movie to spark more conversation about oppressed communities and discrimination…hopefully productive conversation that can lead to the further empowerment of Black communities nationwide.