Vicaria is a brilliant teenager who believes death is a disease that can be cured. After the brutal and sudden murder of her brother, she embarks on a dangerous journey to bring him back to life. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster thematically challenges our ideas of life and death. Written and directed by Bomani J. Story, the film tells a story of perseverance under systemic abuse and the importance of family in it all.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is a Frankenstein story that we haven’t seen before. It engages not only with the horror of the body and the death that consumes it but the horror that a young Black girl goes through just trying to live and ultimately thrive in a society that tries its hardest to stifle her. Vicaria is a mad scientist, like the scientist obsessed with Prometheus that she’s based on, but there is a care and kindness in her exploration of death that comes from the grief that makes the film stand out.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster manages to use the story of Frankenstein’s monster to tell a poignant story of coping with police brutality, gun violence, gangs, and the way even the education system isn’t there to help Black children in all of it. Everything is stacked against Vicaria and her family, but it’s also stacked against the people who serve as the film’s first antagonist, the local gang in her neighborhood. Violence begets violence, but where do you go when you’re at the center and the victim of it from all sides?
Laya DeLeon Hayes as Vicaria is breathtaking. She wields her intelligence as a shield, but just under the surface, she is afraid. Sometimes of the situation at hand and other times because she knows how the works all too well. This is expanded when she has to deal with the consequences of raising her own monster once he’s set loose on those around her. As a character, Vicaria is immediately relatable and recognizable if you’ve lived in a similar situation, and as an actress, DeLeon Hayes gives a triumphantly vulnerable and powerful performance.
In the film’s final act, it’s hard not to cry. It’s hard not to see how much Vicaria has sacrificed in her pursuit of curing death, a disease she sees all around her. She is alone in it all and just wants desperately not to be. The pain she carries is given an outward monster, and she has to come to terms with it. But not only that, the film’s finale directly confronts how systemic brutality turns Black boys and men into monsters for their own purposes instead of allowing them to be sons, brothers, and humans.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is one of the best horror films I’ve had the pleasure to see. It not only represents a story, so many of us from gang areas know all too well, of losing those we love to violent cycles without rescue. It also takes a familiar story and expertly reimagines it from this crushing perspective. Add in stellar effects work and bloody horror moments. I hope this is a film that will make it to the top of everyone’s Best Horror of 2023 lists.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster premiered at the 2023 SXSW Film & TV Festival.
The Angry Black Girl And Her Monster
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is one of the best horror films I’ve had the pleasure to see. It not only represents a story, so many of us from gang areas know all too well, of losing those we love to violent cycles without rescue. It also takes a familiar story and expertly reimagines it from this crushing perspective.