CFF 2019: Strickland’s IN FABRIC Tackles Neo-Giallo with a Tale of a Haunted Dress
I adore a film that is willing to commit to its inherent weirdness and In Fabric is willing to commit every step of the way. Making a modern giallo film about a haunted dress is a bold move and how do you do it without seeming too silly or serious? That is an answer that only British auteur Peter Strickland can answer, because he pulls it off with amazing skill and grace. Strickland’s last few films were thought provoking pieces that I found myself torn on. His first major release was Berbarian Sound Studio and it should have been my favorite movie of the year. Unfortunately, it wasn’t… mainly because it was an excellently made film that I found incredibly boring. The Duke of Burgundy resonated much more with me, but still seemed a little too steeped in its very intentional dullness. But it was during The Duke of Burgundy that I started to understand what Strickland was doing and started to make me a fan. By the end of the year, I couldn’t stop talking about Duke and it found its way in my top 5 films that year. It’s fair to say that I am a fan now and In Fabric is the movie that I have been waiting for. Its beautifully shot, sinister and funny… just what I wanted to see when I am watching a movie about a coven of witches (maybe?) selling a cursed dress to unwitting customers.
Here is the official synopsis:
In Fabric is a haunting ghost story set against the backdrop of a busy winter sales period in a department store and follows the life of a cursed dress as it passes from person to person, with devastating consequences.
Having already gushed over this director’s work, I want to return to discussing the masterful use of weirdness. Most movies would get lost in its own absurdity but In Fabric relishes in its concept and even creates some amazing horror set pieces that earn actual scares from the audience. Not to say that this film is trying to be a scariest film around, but Strickland walks a tightrope between comedy and horror without just being another “horror-comedy”. I think that is important to mention because the comedy is used sparingly and only emphasized the horror is never used to laugh at itself. This film could have been two hours of laughing at itself, but the threat is treated as such and is something that will kill you! There is no escaping this cursed dress and (in the films most confident turn) even goes so far to kill off its protagonist hallway through the film. This move is bold, but earned and appreciated.
While this may not be accepted by Friday night theater goers and your casual horror fans, hardcore cinephiles, and arthouse weirdos will flock to this film and give it the attention that it deserves. I was so happy to see A24 attached to this feature and hope that it receives a decently sized release, because this is the type of movie that benefits from being seen on a big screen. The camerawork is phenomenal and there is something about seeing that in a theater that is transcendent. I know that I this is just a love-fest, but I cannot come up with much to bitch about. Peter Strickland promises an absurdist take on horror, that takes place in a giallo inspired world and delivers on every level. Even at two hours long, it earns every moment spent in the movie and left me wanting even more.
In Fabric is currently playing festivals but will releasing wide very soon.