Title – In Fabric (2018)
Director – Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio)
Cast – Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Julian Barratt, Gwendoline Christie
Plot – Follows the journey of a haunted dress as it passes on from owner to owner, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
“Did the transaction validate your paradigm of consumerism?”
Review by Eddie on 17/03/2020
Marking his fourth feature film with the new Ben Wheatley produced horror/comedy experience In Fabric, over the course of just over a decade, English filmmaker Peter Strickland has created quite the name for himself in the independent circuit as a unique voice of modern cinema, with a raft of odd, delirious and divisive efforts that are hard too describe in words.
From the off-putting Berberian Sound Studio through to the critically lauded mystery romance The Duke of Burgundy, Strickland seems intent on doing things his own way, with In Fabric a lovingly crafted but emotionally cold throwback to European horrors of old as its haunted dress tale calls to mind some type of tribute to beloved filmmakers such as Dario Argento.
From the way in which its crafted in 70’s and 80’s aesthetics, through to its haunting score by Cavern of Anti-Matter, In Fabric does not feel like a film crafted in the modern era, even if its overarching themes of consumerism and fetishism can be taken from a more present perspective.
Following a non-traditional story arc as we at first follow Marianne Jean-Baptiste’s retail worker and desperate for love Sheila as she finds herself in a spot of bother after purchasing a pretty red dress from an extremely odd outlet, then moving onto Leo Bill’s washing machine repairman Reg Speaks, In Fabric is not going to please those seeking a traditional dark horror/comedy hybrid as Strickland doesn’t at all intend to deliver a narrative that conforms to any particular style of rulebook.
There’s little doubting the commitment of the films cast, with Baptiste and Bill giving it their all with solid supports from recognisable faces like Julian Barratt and Steve Oram, while Strickland’s strong sense of visuals and composition is as strong as ever, it’s just that In Fabric’s cold and oft-unexplained movements ensures that this critically popular experience will remain hard to enjoy for a majority of its audience.
From extremely confronting imagery, stemming mostly from the haunted dresses retail outlet and some very odd human behaviours from all involved, In Fabric remains throughout its entirety a tough nut to crack, as its more overt themes and musings are often overshadowed by an insistence to be bizarre at every given moment as we are taken on a ride to a destination unknown.
Final Say –
Both highly original and respectfully infused with styles and traits of old, In Fabric is artistically strong and narratively unpredictable but its odd mix of humour, horror and humans doesn’t’ always mix as Strickland takes us on a journey that is illusive and cold throughout.
2 ½ restaurant coupons out of 5
I absolutely adored this film – and am a huge Strickland fan in general (Duke of Burgandy was one of my top 10 films of the last decade – this was in my top 10 of last year).
Certainly not for everybody but the beguiling strangeness is just so perfect. I found it so thematically rich!
Glad you liked it so, for me it was one of those ones where I at times loved it and other times hated it, I guess that is the point of Strickland films however, they’ve all seemed quite divisive.
I read about this film a while back. Would you say it’s like a mixture between Suspiria and Are You Being Served?
That is actually a fairly accurate comparison ha! I would not of thought of putting it that way but that makes perfect sense!
I was on board for the first half, but after it reached the halfway point it just started going downhill from there for me.
I felt fairly similar, the first 30 mins or so had me hooked but it got lost in some very weird points throughout.
Absolutely spot on review. I thought the style, music and imagery were all fantastic. There was some great horror and comedy in there too. The narrative was broken though, as we spent an our of build up with Marianne Baptiste’s character, only then to shift away. I mean the curses had no feasible “rules” either. I understand it was about consumerism as well being just plain weird.
So many great ideas in this, but it was overlong and repetitive. Have to say though the dialogue was fantastically surreal. Would have been better as a 90 minute anthology feature, rather than an indulgent arthouse drag. Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio was much sharper and focused.
Yeh this one felt both at times self-indulgent and also a little too much at times. Would love to hear some more collab’s with that music group however.