Quirky imprint A24 released this Peter Strickland opus in the U.S; for fans of his previous ventures post 2009’s Katalin Varga, like Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy, it proved an enticing prospect. While Ben Wheatley’s output has been variable (Rebecca, In The Earth, Free Fire and High Rise were let-downs), Strickland’s work has been remarkably consistent, and this bizarre horror/comedy reveals no drop in quality.
Wheatley executive produces here, a strange, lyrical, poetic, blood in the kitchen-sink drama about, yes, a killer dress. Seen slinking around the floor or hovering above the characters, it’s a slinky red number, initially fancied by downtrodden divorcee Sheila (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) to give her confidence for some dates. The department store Sheila buys it from is an odd place, with strange mannequins, pervy staff and vamping sales-women who speak in strange, loquacious tongues; who knows where it comes from or what its purpose is?
This initial set-up, however, proves deceptive, as the story switches unexpectedly and focuses more on the minutiae of washing machine repair for the second hour. Strickland has always been an eclectic bird, and while there’s elements of Amicus and Tigon films here, as before, the writer/director brews them up into a stew that’s heady, baffling and entertaining for the open minded. And if that’s not enticement enough, Gwendoline Christie has a brief but memorable role where she burns up the screen as the arrogant lover of Sheila’s son, Julian Barratt does a nice comedic turn as an HR man, and Sidse Babett Knudsen knocks it out of the park as Jill the sales-lady.
British audiences didn’t rush to see In Fabric, but it’s likely to be a cult film for the ages; In Fabric is well acted, mounted and designed, and defiantly weird in a way that will leaving you talking for hours/days/months afterwards. If nothing else, you could always throw a great fancy-dress party in the style of these characters; just think twice about what you choose to wear.
In Fabric can be streamed via the Curzon website. https://www.curzonartificialeye.com/in-fabric/