NZIFF 51: Film Review In Fabric Director: Peter Strickland

In Fabric is a cut above, a deliciously laugh-out-loud black throwback to 70’s horror that’s as blood red as the demented dress of the movie.

During the busy winter sales at a London department store a tired solo mother (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) buys a bewitching red dress for a date. She finds something’s not right with her purchase, as the cursed dress causes havoc in her life and others.

As soon as Ben Wheatley’s (Sightseers, High Rise) executive producer credit came up on the opening titles I knew I was going to be reveling in some quality dark British horror.

Writer director Peter Strickland brought us the lavish and surreal 2014 NZIFF entry The Duke of Burgundy, and he’s back with another retro nod this time to 70’s Italian and British horror films.

Strickland’s attention to detail is phenomenal. Reproductions of lavish fashion catalogues, dated television commercials, gorgeous technicolour production design, let alone the fantastic outfits and the dress everyone’s dying to have.

Credit to Aussie Ari Wegner for making a dress truly horrifying. She’s got an eye for harrowing stuff with the stunning Central-Otago set Stray and Lady Macbeth on her resume.

The discordant soundtrack adds to the flavour of black humour and true horror, set by two former members of Stereolab who now make experimental electronic Krautrock as Cavern of Anti-Matter.

The cast seem to be relishing the throwback fun. Without A Trace’s Marianne Jean-Baptiste is almost the straight woman in this black horror, with everyone around her – like the vampiric dept store staff – almost hamming it up.

It’s comedy gold when she getting flummoxed by her clueless bank managers, played brilliantly by Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh) and Steve Oram (Sightseers). Or frustrated by a wonderful Gwendoline Christie as her son’s kinky and condescending girlfriend.

The film changes gear a little in it’s second half, embracing the hammy horror as more victims of fashion fall to the killer dress. Just wait for some washing machine repair chat that’s truly frightening.

Strickland crafts a unique piece of art that’s gorgeous and gleefully gory. Sure to worn out as a cult favourite in years to come.

Clayton Barnett