Features and Columns · Movies

In Praise of ‘Hair Wolf’: A Short Film About the Horrors of Appropriation

I guess you could say this is a pretty … hairy … situation.
Hair Wolf
Valerie Steinberg Productions
By  · Published on February 28th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores Mariama Diallo’s short horror film Hair Wolf.

It’s an absolute pleasure to see a story delivered in exactly the right format. Nothing makes me want to tear my hair out (for lack of a better turn of phrase) than seeing a feature film that would have been 10 times more impactful as a short (the 2020 rural slow-burner The Dark and the Wicked immediately springs to mind).

On the flip side, it can be frustrating in a “why doesn’t this exist?” sort of way when you watch a short film that deserves 60 more minutes of worldbuilding to expand its story. What a treat to have the six-and-a-half-minute Alive in Joburg turned into District 9! Sometimes re-treads and re-makes are a good thing!

All that said, when it comes to Hair Wolf, the 2018 short film from director Marima Diallo, we are very much in a goldilocks situation. This length is just right. Any shorter, and the set-up and pay-off would be too rushed. Any longer and the core joke of the short would start to feel repetitive. Indeed, Hair Wolf does a very good job of zeroing in on precisely one thematic metaphor: white appropriation of Black culture as a literal succubus feasting on the community.

Without saying too much of the short’s plot — because you really should watch it for yourselves — Diallo’s film concerns a Black-owned salon that becomes the target of a vapid white influencer who wants her hair styled.

Taking aim at serious topics (from Blackfishing to gentrification) with a comedic glint in its eye, Hair Wolf is a ghoulishly good time with an important message. Check it out for yourself:

Watch Hair Wolf:

Who made this?

Hair Wolf is directed and written by Mariama Diallo, an American writer and director whose credits include Sketch and Random Act of Flyness. The short film was photographed by Charlotte Hornsby and stars Kara Young (as Cami), Taliah Webster (as Eve), and Madeline Weinstein (as Rebecca). You can follow Diallo on Instagram here. And you can find them on Vimeo here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).