Angry Black Girl and Her Monster Review: A New Frankenstein

Like all great stories, Frankenstein has a universality that seems applicable to almost every historical moment, which means that remakes of movies in the ’50s (Hammer Horror movies), ’70s (meat for frankenstein) and 2010 (Depraved) have a chance to be brilliantly powerful.


While it may have been born out of social anxiety toward industrialization, atheism, and scientific progress (along with Mary Shelley’s own complexes), today one could easily imagine a new Frankenstein the film is an allegory for artificial intelligence and seemingly intelligent technology. Who knows, maybe ChatGPT will write it.

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In The angry black girl and her monster, Shelley’s classic book is very loosely adapted into one of its most unique versions, an extremely intelligent and grim study of marginalized people, grief, urban disenfranchisement, and systemic racism. In Bomani J. Story’s excellent little film, a resourceful but impoverished child prodigy wants to “cure death” after losing her mother and her brother through a hard and increasingly desperate life. She works to bring her brother back to life, with disastrous results.


Frankenstein and the drug dealer

Cast of Angry Black Girl and her monster
RLJE Movies

The angry black girl and her monster flirt between magical realism and stark horror. What seems like a bit of a silly premise – a young teenager creates a fancy laboratory in public housing projects, acting like a mad scientist – gradually turns into a brutal and emotionally moving look at the suffering, grief, and social disadvantage that face (especially BIPOC) people in poverty.

The film introduces us to the wonderfully named Vicar, inviting us to experience her difficulties vicariously and produce empathy as a result. Victoria is a very different type of character than what we often see black women portray, not just in horror movies but in general. She checks the boxes for a precocious and dreamy young woman, but she has the intelligence to back that up, and she’s so flawed because she’s deeply human. While she is inspiring to a degree, this is not a ‘girl power’ movie, and she is not naive enough to paint a group of people as mere victims who are forced to better themselves and lift their spirits.

No, as the title indicates, Vicaria is angry, and she has a right to be. Her community is fractured by poverty and drugs, with the resident lead dealer, Kango (played with both menace and humanity by Denzel Whitaker), providing what broken communities and individuals often seek in capitalism. : a last resort.

Kango’s drug trade generates jobs and money, but also death and destruction, which directly impacts Vicaria’s life. Her brother is dead and her father (an amazing Chad Coleman) is using drugs, while her home is under constant threat from police activity. When she tries to resurrect her brother (in some occasionally silly cases, intentionally Frankenstein-like scenes), those destructive patterns are changed and sent in Kango’s direction.

Angry Black Girls and the monsters we make

The angry black girl and her monster
RLJE Movies

Once Vicaria’s resurrected brother is truly unleashed in the film’s final act, The angry black girl and her monster It is without a doubt a horror film, viscerally painful and bloody. But up to that point, even horror haters will find a lot of depth and meaning in the film. It’s a surprisingly complicated portrait of the real effects of not just racism, but centuries of systemic disadvantage that have cornered many people.

There’s a great little scene near the beginning of the movie where we see Vicaria, in all her prematurely bright glory, argue with her teacher. The white woman refuses to speak the black girl’s name, and when a hint of anger wells up in Victoria, she is treated inhumanely by a school cop loser, a corrections officer doing the bidding of white power. It’s a tiny one-act play in miniature, detailing Vicaria’s mild arrogance, sure, but also the immense power imbalance between her and the system itself.

When Vicaria’s father, Donald, confronts the teacher about what they did, he is likely to be perceived as a monster, just like his daughter. But Donald already knows. When the police angrily bang on his door during dinner, he knows better than to open it, asks for a court order, and protects the family from him; he knows how they look at him and at the black bodies gathered around the table (in an incredible scene). Maybe that’s why it’s suggested that he uses drugs. Yet Coleman plays him with a truly moving dignity, earnestness, and kindness. It’s one of the best supporting performances of the year.

However, that is one of the main themes of the film and possibly a message from the Universal Pictures original. Frankenstein movie: People who don’t understand or fear you can treat you like a monster, and when they do it long enough, you can become one.

An unfortunate happy ending in a masterfully dark film

The angry black girl and her monster
RLJE Movies

In addition to a master class performance from Chad Coleman, Laya DeLeon Hayes does a remarkable job in the titular role. Hayes, perhaps best known for the equalizer series and voicing Doc McStuffins on the show of the same name, gives the best performance of his young life thus far. She is cautious and haughty, but clearly broken and tormented. The scenes of her with Coleman and Whitaker, in particular, are wonderfully fleshed out with subtle details and interesting dynamics.

Bomani J. Story amazes me with her feature film debut, creating a sensitive and disturbing drama that feels vivid and authentic. He details this impoverished world with compassion and care, but also with an intellectual understanding of the systems that create drugs, poverty, death, and police violence. When he switches to outright horror, he does it with suspenseful finesse and genuine terror. It’s not a happy movie, but it’s important, which is probably why the final minutes feel tonally unwarranted. Granted, the alternative would have been profoundly depressing (enough to rival The Fog), but in a film as stark and dark as this, the somewhat happy retcon of an ending feels like a dodge.

It’s an unfortunate but small complaint for one of the most original horror movies of the year, surprising considering that it deals with such a well-known and universally applicable story. None of us are born monsters, but we can become them with enough damage, and we can create them with enough hate.

Produced by Crypt TV, RLJE Films to Release the Hit South By Southwest The angry black girl and her monster in theaters on June 9, 2023, and will be on demand and digital on June 23, 2023. It will also stream on ALLBlk and Shudder at a later date.

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