The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster is one of the year's best horror movies. Everything from the production value to the performances syncs perfectly with writer-director Bomani J. Story’s vision. His script moves like a finely tuned watch and there is zero fat left on the bone. Some of the CGI is a bit hokey, but the reality is that even these effects align with the film's self-awareness.

After suffering the loss of her brother Chris (Edem Atsu-Swanzy), Vicaria (Layla DeLeon Hayes) begins theorizing a new hypothesis. Death is a disease, and diseases can be cured. She tries to explain this to her high school teacher, but the teacher doesn’t believe her, and also has preexisting biases against her. Luckily Vicaria's dad, Donald (Chad L. Coleman), hears her out, but has demons of his own to address. As it turns out, Vicaria has plans of her own. She secretly steals her dead brother's corpse and begins reanimating it through her groundbreaking theory. Once the disease of death is cured and Chris’ zombified body is walking upright, things begin to go haywire. It's up to Vicaria to stop Chris before his uncharacteristic behavior turns into a killing spree.

angry black girl and her monster

In recent years, filmmakers like Ari Aster (Beau Is Afraid) have rejected the label "elevated horror," and for good reason. Though it might seem like a compliment, the phrase doesn’t take into account that most horror directors have no issue with low-budget horror movies and are inspired by many of them. As audiences, we also enjoy all walks of film and TV regardless of budget. So when a film like this one comes along, it is truly a breath of fresh air. The film is well-made, well-acted, and sincerely has something to say. But none of these factors stop it from being campy, gross, or funny. In fact, it is the marriage of these concepts that makes it as good as it is. Credit must be given to Story’s understanding of The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster's reality. The premise of “sad girl brings her brother back to life” practically screams bad horror movie, but with gorgeous wide shots of men on couches and an absolutely riveting monologue by Coleman (The Wire), the film becomes riveting and well-crafted. So no matter what your mileage may be on a film drawing heavily from Frankenstein, some things are simply undeniable.

The science behind Vicaria’s plan is a moot point. Suspension of disbelief is a given in most genre films, so the fact that she takes her plan so seriously and is believable in doing so is a testament to the young actress's acumen. The costumes and makeup, on the whole, are very consistent, but close-ups are a bit tricky. Close-ups of the body parts Vicaria sews together to bring her brother back to life are truly some of the most disturbing images you will see in a movie this year. Story takes a page out of Jaws and hides the monster's face for 90 percent of the film. Unfortunately, the 10 percent that does show his face lacks the same verve as the scenes where Vicaria is stitching bodies together like a quilt. The film is mostly practical save for the electrical current that runs through all of her machinery. That electricity looks pretty out of place. Whether it's bad CGI, or it just doesn’t sit well with the physical scenery, there is something slightly wonky about the way it looks.