Surviving a horror movie is no easy task. Surviving a horror movie as the token person of color? A momentous task, but it happens. Looking at both TV and film, we can pull together a reasonably healthy list of Black Final Girls. Some of these characters find themselves in situations they could have avoided had they just asked an old Black proverb, “Who all gone be there.” The answer probably would have kept them at home. For others, they happen to find themselves in the middle of nonsense — but they have enough sense to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. What they all have in common is the journey their hair takes as the world around plunges into deep chaos.
From Toni Braxton inspired pixie cuts to Wet N’ Wavy bundles, it's all relative to their journeys. The list below contains some, but not all, of my favorite Black Final Girls. This group of women has made me wonder what hairstyles pair best when trying to evade anything from cult worshipers to slashers to monsters.
Kira in The Invitation
The Invitation is definitely a movie in which asking “Who all gone be there” would have saved Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) the trouble she endured. However, she tried her best to be a supportive girlfriend to a boyfriend, Will — who, frankly, should have asked for some more details about his ex-wife’s trip. That ex-wife, Eden, and her new husband, David, had plans that night for a dinner party seasoned with poison and weird vibes. Kira showed with soft curls and a stylish shoulder-length cut that I’m sure took far longer to achieve and deserved way more than awkwardness from Will’s ex and her higher vibrations husband. Kira survives thanks to quick thinking and acting without hesitation. Her hair also survives the night.
Had this movie taken place outdoors, that may not have been the case. Her time is mostly spent inside, so her pressed and styled hair is sweated out at most, but whatever frizz control she used did its job. If you’re going to have to kill your boyfriend’s ex-wife’s deranged guests, you might as well be cute doing it.
Karla Wilson in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
Karla (Brandy Norwood) having micro braids might have been the best thing that could have ever happened to this character. Honestly, it was a miracle she made it to the end of the movie. I’m giving all credit to her protective style setting the tone. Otherwise, there isn’t much to go on. For one, she and her friend, Julie, were both absolutely certain that the capital of Brazil was Rio de Janeiro. Blame that on the American education system if you will, but at any point, before they left to go on that sham of a vacation, someone could have asked Jeeves. Second, not one soul checked the weather before they left? Perhaps they would have also noticed there would be a whole tropical storm before deciding to go.
But see, this is why Karla’s box braids were so clutch. They survived the humidity, getting wet, and falling through all the glass. Karla even managed to evade that bootleg Captain Hook. If you’re going to be stranded on a small island in the middle of a tropical storm with a friend who got away with murder, then you might as well have a hairstyle that’s going to grant you the protection of your guardian angel clocked out to forgo.
Jennifer “Jenn” Remming in Sweetheart
Jenn (Kiersey Clemons) didn’t get the memo that you should heavily consider a protective style of braids when going on any trips that involve water. It’s OK, though, because her short haircut was probably the most functional hairstyle for her to have while marooned on a deserted island with a monster and cannibalistic sorry-ass racist “friends.” We meet Jenn well after whatever super-cute hairstyle she had before her weekend getaway was cut short by a boating disaster. But I know in my heart her wash n’ go was magazine-cover ready.
Jenn spends a great deal of time in the water, making her natural shortcut ideal for drying quickly. You can’t fight racism and monsters with a cold. Plus, the island had plenty of coconuts. Had Jenn not been fighting for her life the entire time, she could have used some coconut oil to help grease her very stressed out scalp. The short natural was the least of her worries, and rightfully so.
Selena in 28 Days Later
A lot can happen in 28 days. The world as you know it could go to complete hell thanks to a contagious virus. Your hair could also grow half an inch. Like Jenn, we met Selena (Naomie Harris) well after her last hair appointment, but I’m assuming she had a nice sleek bob. When Selena and Mark show up to save Jim, her hair tells a story of great stress and ample humidity. Like, of course, it would be super humid amid a dangerous viral outbreak. Her distressed looks under normal circumstances would have definitely been a hairstyle Tyra Banks would have given a contestant on America’s Next Top Model during the makeover episodes. It gives FeFe Dobson energy, and that’s the energy you want to have when society crumbles in a matter of 28 days.
Like the other women on this list, Selena does what needs to be done by killing people when infected. Very no-nonsense like her hair, which holds up extremely well by the end credits.
Alexa Woods in Alien vs. Predator
Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan) is as calm and collected as they come. I mean, she scales mountains with 18-inch Peruvian bundled hair extensions. From the very beginning, you know Alexa Woods is not only a bad b*tch, but she is also that b*tch, and one who was destined to survive, like her bundles. If you’re going to travel 2,000 feet under the ice to explore a well preserved ancient pyramid, chances are things could get a little wet and muggy. Alexa Woods' wet n wavy is not only perfect for a trip to the Dominican Republic, but it also doubles as excellent exploration hair.
By the end of the movie, Alexa had won over the hearts of a cute archeologist and a Predator. So, not only is she out here cashing Weyland Industries checks and living long enough to spend it, but she is also a certified Xenomorph killer — not some mail-in certificate but one given to her directly by the Predator boo she saves. Alexa and her hair go on a journey together that is pretty poetic. She starts with soft, loose curls, and by the time she kills the Xenomorph queen, her hair looks like Alexa just had a long night of turning up in VIP with her homegirls in Miami.
Reese Wilson in Urban Legend
My headcanon is that Reese Wilson (Loretta Devine) is an aunt to I Still Know What You Did Last Summer’s Karla Wilson. They both shared the same hairdresser before Karla went off to college in another state. Like her niece, Reese has a protective style. Also like her niece, she needed her hair to set the tone for how her journey was going to go in Urban Legend.
Reese has what looks like a crocheted Vitner’s Hot Crunchy Curls, but they work for her Auntie-Who-Can’t-Wait-to-Get-Off-Her-Day-Job aesthetic. She is very much on that university campus for a check, and she’s only working overtime if there is time and a half involved. That’s probably why she isn’t present for a good portion of the second act, but it's OK. She did her overtime in the third act. Her style gave her the spirit of protection after she took a bullet to the chest while trying to save a student.
Detective Rita Veder in Vampire in Brooklyn
Detective Rita Veder (Angela Bassett) goes on a hell of a hair journey in Vampire in Brooklyn. For starters, her hair is perfect for a detective with parental issues in the ‘90s — the short bangs tell a story of sleepless nights and Virginia Slims. Rita and her bangs were already going through it before any vampires got to Brooklyn, so the arrival of the likes of Maximillian could have only exacerbated that.
As the movie progresses and Rita learns more about who she is and what her mama was up to while conducting her paranormal research, the hair gets more hectic. It goes from page 24 in Black Hair magazine to looking like she spent 1,000 years in a coffin without a stitch of silk lining. It works, though. At one point, Rita’s fangs are longer than her bangs, but it's fine because she’s a survivor. She kills Maxmillian and lives to make an appointment with her beautician.
Jordan Turner in The Call
The Call’s Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is a Black Final Girl who got the sweetest revenge against the killer in her movie, and it’s all because of that shake n’ go wig she wore. A wig that says she's not only stressed, she is fed the hell up. The movie begins with Jordan having to endure knowing that a teenage girl was killed because she couldn't do much as a 9-1-1 operator outside of sending help. She returned to work six months later in her shake n’ go as a 9-1-1 operator trainer, only to have the same nightmare rope her right back into the helplessness she felt before she left.
Jordan and her wig do everything they can to help the teenage girl kidnapped by the same killer she spoke to at the beginning of the movie, but she ultimately decides to leave the headset and take action. It came as no surprise to me because anyone whose wig is lifted is ready to take off at a moment's notice. The mere fact that it was a shake n’ go wig right off a mannequin's head told me Jordan was out of cares to give. Jordan manages to track the killer down, save the teenage girl, Casey, and get her wig wet in the process. If you’re willing to get your shake n’ go wet, then you are definitely ready to kill, and that’s exactly what Jordan does.