In Fabric (dir. Peter Strickland)
Throughout the late night rumblings of AFI Midnight this year it was hard to squeeze out a negative opinion of any of the four slated movies (included was Knife + Heart, Piercing, and Netflix’s Cam.) The screening that got the most buzz, however, was easily Peter Strickland’s latest—a deranged display of idolized fashion mannequins and witchy retail clerks in the allusive Giallo horror-comedy In Fabric.
Although In Fabric opens following a day in the life of bank teller Sheila (Academy Award nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste), it ultimately ends up staying with the haunted red dress she buys for a hapless date. Taking a jarring, machine-tossed turn in it’s latter half, In Fabric makes a point to let the audience know it’s more concerned with the inner machinations of its ritualistic department store than it’s targeted customers.
The best part of In Fabric is Strickland’s dedication to a pulpy ride. This is a movie that is best enjoyed as straight-forward cinema—while there’s plenty to unpack, it’s most fun as a weird ride through textile hell. The visuals are highly saturated, with often times jarring cuts and layered with an anxious and full soundscape. From score to color palette there’s no denying this is a delightful homage to everything that makes watching Giallos such a good time.
Loopy dialogue is another testament to the fun Strickland has here, layering loopy dialogue with biting satire of the machinations of retail. Some particular stand outs are stumbling, overtly-complex sales pitches and non-sensical monologues pertaining to the inner workings of washing machines. (As noted by MovieMaker’s Ryan Williams, it’s hard not to think back to the dry, oppressively scripted world of Office Space at times.)
Despite the polarizing latter shift of focus, In Fabric is the ideal Midnight deal. A movie that captures genre and satire in such a way you can get lost in its highly articulated world and love it for its obscurely ubiquitous sensibilities. —Grant Vance MM
AFI Fest ran in Hollywood, California from November 8-15, 2017. Did you attend AFI Fest last week? Let us know your favorite film in the comments. Featured Image courtesy of Neon.