For his feature debut, director Bomani J. Story gives Mary Shelly's classic novel Frankenstein receives a modern-day reimagining in The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster from AllBlk/Shudder and RJLE FILMS.
Death is ever present in Vicaria's (Laya Deleon) world of gang violence, police brutality, and substance abuse. After watching her mother and brother perish to gun violence, she watches her father, Donald (Chad Coleman), succumb to drug addiction. Fed up, she's had Vicaria decide she is going to put an end to all this death.
The brilliant teenager has a firm mindset that death is a disease that can be cured, so she spends all of her time trying to bring her dead brother back to life. Naturally, she has obstacles, including teachers who think she's overly ambitious and local drug dealers led by Kango (Denzel Whitaker). Vicara will soon learn that no matter how brilliant you are, no one can play God.
Since its publication in 1818, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein has deviated to nearly every film genre. We've seen deviations of the character in comedy (Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein), science fiction (Frankenstein Unbound), and animation (the Hotel Transylvania franchise). The character even made his way to the blaxploitation era with the 1973 flick, Blackenstein. Fifty years later, a variant of Frankenstein's monster returns in a film aimed at the melanin crowd.
For the most part, Story's debut is an impressive one. While the film's budget is limited, the elements of a horror film are prevalent. We have some decent visual effects and some decent kills. While some may think that the Oscar Winning Get Out started a boom of "Woke Horror," racial and social issues have been a part of numerous horror films aimed at the Black community.
Our lead actress Laya Deleon is steering the ship in The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster. Deleon taps into the teen angst of a young lady dealing with systemic racism in a faulty educational system. At just nine years, Deleon got her start voicing Doc McStuffins, the first Black animated character on Disney Junior, and it's clear here that she will have a successful transition to becoming an adult actress.
The supporting cast of vets is also good. Chad L. Coleman has a commanding screen presence, no matter how small the role is. One of the things I liked about his character was his acceptance of his faults, including his addiction. Seeing Denzel Whitaker go against type and play a drug dealer was also eye-opening.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster title may get the side eye of some viewers. However, I urge viewers to look deeper into the messages that Story is bluntly laying out to the audience. Case in point, there's a moment in the third when Vicaria realizes that no matter how hard you try, sometimes a second chance will place you in more dire straits.
While some viewers are tired of recycled ideas in the film medium, Bomani J. Story's The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster gets the remake treatment right.
Final Grade: B+
AllBlk/Shudder/RLJE Films will release THE ANGRY BLACK GIRL AND HER MONSTER in Theaters, on Demand and on Digital on June 9th, 2023. The film will be available to stream on Shudder and Allblk at a later date.