In Fabric (2019)

Peter Strickland directs Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Leo Bill and Hayley Squires in this camp British horror where a murderous dress connects its owners to a demented department store.

What starts out as relatively simple premise for a self-consciously mannered horror (cursed item, vampiric otherworldly shop of ominous mysteries) becomes a centrifuge for lots of ideas to spin around. The comical loneliness of a divorcee in a world of inadequates. Menstruating mannequins. A bank with soft sold Kafka-esque performance reviews. A washing machine repairman with sexually hypnotic descriptive powers. A washing machine repair business run like a cartel. All with the visuals palette of a seventies John Lewis, lit like a Tale of the Unexpected. This is an exercise in deadpan parodic style over substance. Not all of the beautiful puzzle pieces scattered are neatly slotted together. There’s a moment well past the midway point where the plot resets (think like Lost Highway or Full Metal Jacket) and you lose a smidge of investment. The restart eventually satisfies, broadening the scope and realigning the intentions of Strickland. This is a satire bathing in the weirdness of horror. The Channel 4 sitcom interludes and Marianne Jean Baptiste’s brilliant, sensitive performance don’t really fit in a pure shocker. In Fabric is a more unruly, ambitious boondoggle. One that is often formally spellbinding and persuasively queer enough to get lost in.

7

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