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Director: Peter Strickland
Starring: Gwendoline Christie, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Caroline Catz, Julian Barratt, Hayley Squires, Leo Bill, and Sidse Babett Knudsen
2018, UK, 118 minutes, Digital
In fabric hemmed to perfection and dyed a glorious, radiant rose, is woven a curse that dooms the owner of a particular dress, which fits any wearer as though bespoke, to a fate of terrible and lethal luck. Across a bloody, grin-inducing two hours, British director and Euro-horror obsessive, Peter Strickland produces an immaculate yarn somehow far more satisfying than his already impressive earlier works, Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy. While In Fabric packs an air of fright a la Suspiria, the “scares” are balanced to win the hearts of horror fans and fearers alike. Plus, the very nature of its far-fetched premise—that a dress can fly and slither and stalk, intent on murder—will make you laugh in awe along the way. With a charming and measured performance from Marianne Jean-Baptiste, and featuring a devilish turn from Game of Thrones’ Gwendoline Christie, In Fabric is a stunning best-yet from Strickland, a contemporary genre powerhouse.
Split in two, due to events that shouldn’t be spoiled, In Fabric first tells the story of a romantically dissatisfied single mother, Sheila, before venturing into the lives of couple Babs and Reg—a washing machine repair man who harbors an unexpectedly sensuous proficiency with technical lingo. Sheila heads to her local department store in need of an outfit for an upcoming blind date. The date will unsurprisingly end abruptly, but that utterly bizarre shopping trip beforehand will have lasting effects, just as it does for Babs and Reg. Miss Luckmoore, the saleswoman who assists Sheila and Babs with their respective purchases, has a vampiric stare, floating gait, and weapon-like fingernails. Together with the flock of similarly spooky sales associates and their physically flaky boss, Luckmoore targets buyers of a dress that will haunt them, in search of the psychosexual satisfaction the crew receive in return.
If it isn’t already obvious, fans of The Love Witch should race to this gothic satire of consumer culture, as should lovers of the giallo hits that inspire Strickland, or those keen on works like Amer, from neighboring genre revivalists Cattet and Forzani. In Fabric however, remains an original set of tales all its own. (Mitchell Goodrich)
Toronto International Film Festival
San Sebastian Film Festival
Maryland Film Festival