This Frankenstein-inspired tale manages to provide a unique twist on the story, despite being a little rough around the edges.
PLOT: It tells the story of teenage anti-hero, Vicaria, who is on a desperate quest to cure death.
REVIEW: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of the greatest stories ever told so it’s no surprise to see it adapted in so many different ways. Whether it’s Sundance’s Birth/Rebirth or the Emma Stone-starring Poor Things, there’s clearly so much more to these tales than just “raising the dead.” And The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is no different, providing biting social commentary, a unique twist on the story, and some truly wonderful performances.
Vicaria’s (Laya DeLeon Hayes) obsession with death may start out personal, with the death of her family members being her launching point. But it’s more than that, with her taking a deep look at the dissolution of her neighborhood, which further motivates her. Hayes is absolutely phenomenal in the role and the film almost entirely relies on her. It’s easy to feel her desperation as she just wants things to be okay. Sometimes the camera sits on her reaction and her eyes tell the whole story. The voiceover by Hayes really hits you in the gullet and in a world of mediocre narration, this one stands out as fantastic.
I was almost shocked at how little Chad L Coleman was in the film as Vicaria’s dad. The few scenes he’s in really make an impact, with a certain scene where he confronts a teacher being a true standout. But he does feel a bit underutilized. I also enjoyed Edem Atsu-Swanzy‘s performance as Chris AKA The Monster. His figure is tall and imposing and almost reminded me of Tyler Mane’s Michael Myers in terms of brutality. Another performance I absolutely loved was that of young Amana Summer’s Jada. She filled just enough of the “Creepy little girl” quota, while still providing some levity.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is an extremely uncomfortable watch at times. The gang violence is absolutely horrifying with how it affects this community. There are sure to be people upset about some of the points about society that the film makes. But it feels like the film is trying to live a truth versus simply pushing an agenda. Beautifully shot with a surrealist bend, there are a ton of breathtaking visuals. There are sure to be complaints about the lighting, as it can certainly get dark, but that’s all very intentional. The monster is purposely hidden and most of that is using darkness to allow your imagination to do the work for you. But we still get enough of an up-close look that he still feels like a walking corpse versus someone in a costume
I did start to get very frustrated at the sheer number of jump scares. They often feel so unnecessary and are repeated so much, that they’re more annoying than impactful. The story also suffers a bit for being in too much of a bubble. Multiple cops are killed at one point and somehow it doesn’t bring the whole police force down upon the neighborhood. It’s times like this when it almost feels like the script just forgot about certain scenes.
Something the movie does multiple times is to stay on one shot, only to cut back briefly to something graphic happening. It really helps the moments make more of an impact than if they were traditionally edited together. Because despite this being inspired by a classic story, the filmmakers make an effort to make it feel unique. Despite minor problems, I really enjoyed this very unique Frankenstein-inspired story. Get rid of the completely unnecessary jump scares and a few logic leaps, then the film would be elevated quite a lot. As is, it’s a great story with wonderful performances that is a little rough around the edges.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is IN THEATERS EVERYWHERE ON JUNE 9TH, 2023.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/the-angry-black-girl-and-her-monster-review/