Seductive insanity is a light way to put in words, when describing Peter Strickland’s latest venture about a killer dress. Through its erotic imagery, and insightful gut punches to the very wrongdoings of capitalist society, In Fabric is an inspired piece of absurdist horror, that manages to endear and provoke it’s audience through it’s frightful terror. Placed in the rise of supply and demand in 70’s, Strickland utilities quick cuts, meticulous production design, and stilted performances to poke fun at the various gripes and misdeeds of the rise of retail. In Fabric isn’t your traditional horror flick.
Inspired by Giallo era-cinema, with heavy homages to Argento and Bava, the visceral color palette and muted costumes perfectly compliments the film’s eeriness and ambiguity of the supernatural. What could have been an incredibly basic rendition of a traditional witch/ghoul fairy tale, Strickland uses both the literal and metaphorical to create a haunting and at times hilarious nightmare. Moments of brief absurdist humor, similar to the comedic liking’s of Monty Python, give incremental breathers for the viewer to relax and get prepared for the next horrific scene.
It goes without mentioning that Strickland has yet another another home-run when it comes to musical composition. While distant from Cat Eyes score, who did the score for Strickland’s previous outing The Duke Of Burgundy, In Fabric has a semi-experimental sound to it, using rough harpsichords and ambient tones to further amplify the film’s absurd nature.
It’s also a commendable effort that this film also contains some of the best performances of the year. The magnificent and incredibly underrated Hayley Squires hit an endearing core, adding heart and empathy to her character. Marianne Jean-Baptiste portrays one of the most likable horror protagonists I’ve seen in a while, in which her character not only acts accordingly to her pre-existing motivations, but also has plenty of charisma to feel emotionally invested in the character’s actions. .
The only thing that’s stopping the madness of In Fabric is it’s overtly exploitative weirdness. At times, the film goes overboard with it’s creative ambiguity, resulting in several unnecessary and disturbing WTF moments which were not needed in the film to begin with. I can’t believe that I’m going to say this, but there’s one scene in the film that tops the erotic nature of the fuck box scene in Claire Denis’s High Life, in which the scene involves Mannequins, Pubic Hair, and Flying Semen. Easily offended people beware!
In Fabric is the kind of original cinema we need nowadays. Divided into two different tales, the soon to be iconic blood-colored dress will haunt your dreams for years to come. It’s complete utter insanity, that manages to strike a cord when commenting on the capitalist idiocy of the retail market. It’s safe to say that Strickland is back, better than ever. But Beware, The Witches of your local department store will be keeping a close eye on you, by the time the end credits roll. Shop till you literally drop dead to the ground, amirite?
A24 Will Release In Fabric In North America in Early 2019