Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: Horror & sexual references
Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Sheila
Hayley Squires as Babs
Leo Bill as Reg Speaks
Gwendoline Christie as Gwen
Julian Barratt as Stash
Director: Peter Strickland
A lonely divorcee visits a bewitching London department store to find a dress to transform her life. She soon finds a perfect, artery-red gown that unleashes a malevolent, unstoppable curse.
I haven’t seen many of the movies from Peter Strickland, but I had seen The Duke of Burgundy, which I thought was really good. I had an interest in seeing the horror movie In Fabric because Strickland’s name was attached to it. Outside of the fact that Gwendoline Christie was in in it and it’s a horror movie, I knew basically nothing about it going in. In Fabric is certainly a strange movie, and for quite a while it does succeed very well for what it’s aiming for. However it is a let down by the second half, turning a very solid horror movie into an okay/decent one.
One thing to know going in is that In Fabric is a slow moving movie, it takes some time to get things moving but for a while I was reasonably invested. The movie is also just a little bit strange, it is a movie about an evil dress after all, so you’re going to have to expect some weirdness at least. Of course, some of the weirdness is used for horror, and while I never felt scared, at times it does provide some effective uncomfortable moments. Some of the weirdness was used for comedy, especially with the dialogue, there are so many lines here that sound so ridiculous and outlandish I have to assume it was intentional and self aware. So that all sounds well and good, potentially a movie that I could love. However there is one problem, and it’s rather major. I won’t spoil what happens but the movie takes quite a different turn for the second half, and unfortunately it wasn’t for the better. The plot is slow even in the first half, but that part felt like it was building up to something. The second half kind of throws that out the window but follows a similar pattern. Sure it continued to have strange things happening, but it becomes less interesting and became repetitive. You’re not even freaked or weirded out, you’re just tired and hoping for something interesting to happen. Not to mention the new characters introduced are much less interesting than the established protagonist Sheila. Thankfully in the last 15-20 minutes it picks up again in providing at least some strangeness that makes the movie a little more interesting, but it’s not enough to make up for what happened that past hour.
Marianne Jean-Baptiste plays the lead character of Sheila, who comes across the particularly red dress that proves troublesome over the course of the movie, and she was really good, really selling a lot of the ridiculous stuff that happens over the course of the movie. The rest of the cast is pretty good as well, the standout probably being Fatma Mohamed as Miss Luckmore, the store clerk who sells the dress to Sheila and is probably lot more than she initially appeared to be.
Peter Strickland’s direction was great, a lot of it especially the editing is clearly influenced by some horror movies from the 70s like Suspiria. In Fabric such a stunning movie throughout, no matter how strange it may be. I know it’s a common thing to say about some movies, but it does have a David Lynch vibe to it, especially with the colours.
There’s a lot of admirable aspects to be found In Fabric for sure. Peter Strickland directed it very well, the cast were mostly good (mainly Marianne Jean-Baptiste), and that first half is a really solid slow burn horror movie, with just the right amount of strangeness. It’s just a shame that the last half didn’t work so well and ultimately dragged down the rest of the movie. If you like Peter Strickland’s other movies and/or are open to seeing a bizarre and original horror movie, I’d say check it out.