To be black is to recognize the inherent impact that roughness has and continues to have on our culture and our history. To be black is to see your identity relentlessly caricatured for propaganda, but to claim your power in the face of the deniers. Yet the cycles of grief imposed on Black communities lead to anger, exhaustion and the question of how and where to channel them. The first film of the screenwriter /director Bomani J. The story, “the angry Black Girl and Her Monster”, confronts these realities through an Afro-surrealist escapade of Science Fiction.
Vicaria (Laya DeLeon Hayes) is a precocious teenager with a penchant for science. She believes that passed away can be cured. When her older brother Chris (Edem Atsu-Swanzy) is executed in gang roughness, she pursues her theory and brings him back to life. But what she discovers through her rebirth is not the brother she knew. She is a shell — a monster of her own creation – and while her community is reeling from the powered emergence of her loss, she embarks on a path of peril and denial.
There is a clear nod to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in the basis of the film’s script. Aside from funny references, such as the modern Prometheus written on Vicarie’s notebook, the Film shows that its true heart lies in the reinvention and modernization of the “tragic monster”.”
Although Chris’ passed away is the upsetting incident of the film, the generational trauma and the desire to overcome it are its cornerstone. The opening sequence includes a Montage of emotional vignettes in which Vicaria describes her mother’s passed away by street roughness and laments that “passed away is the issue that broke [her] family.”It is not only the exhibition that exposes these themes, but also the scope of the film to paint a complete portrait of the community and to show it through courage and love.
Vicaria’s relationship with her father, in addition to their shared grief, functions as the emotional core of the film, as well as her close and often witty relationship with Aisha (Reilly Brooke Stith), Chris’s grieving girlfriend. On the other side are the local bandits, including Kango (Denzel Whitaker) and the enforcer Jamaal (Keith Holliday), who threaten the neighborhood. However, Story’s script refuses to stereotype them as archetypal antagonists in two dimensions. As the narrative unfolds, we see the curves of their characters, and the thoughtfulness put into the supporting plots and the casting pays off.
The performances stretch across the board, but no one shines like DeLeon Hayes, who is not only a wonderful Scream Queen when she is required, but also versatile through everything the Film demands. Having fun alongside pure scientific madness, she creates the gravity of the film with a firm tone and a rigid upper lip against all odds and a piercing despair in the emotional valleys of the narrative.