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AFI Fest Review: Peter Strickland’s IN FABRIC Is A Nightmare Brought To Life

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Mystery Science Theater 3000‘s Kevin Murphy described David Lynch’s Eraserhead best in his book, A Year At The Movies. “David Lynch has managed to do what few other filmmakers can accomplish: To present on film a dream, or in this case a nightmare.” Much like Lynch, director Peter Strickland has managed to do the same with his latest work, In Fabric.

Image via IMDB

The story is set in a vague time period of yesteryear South England during a busy season of winter and season of shopping. Women by the score are flocking to the department store known as Dentley & Soper for their extravagant and high-end clothes. The movie is split in two, with the first part following Sheila (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), a down-on-her luck bank teller dealing with divorce, her rebellious son (Jaygann Ayeh), and his rude and sexually active girlfriend (Gwendoline Christie). Sheila finds herself attracted to D&S, and specifically, a gorgeous and hypnotic red dress that is sold to her by the curious and elegant clerk (Fatma Mohamed, a recurring actress in Strickland’s films). At first the dress seems to brighten Sheila’s mood, even being able to fit her despite being a size 36- what should be far too small for her. Strangeness follows as the dress makes the washer go haywire, attacks her son’s girlfriend, and causes a bizarre rash to appear upon her. With Sheila digging into the deadly history and roots of the dress and the fate of the model who wore it before her…

The second tale involves the dress ending up on nebbish washer repairman Reg Speaks (Leo Bill) for his stag party as he prepares to wed his betrothed, Jill (Sidse Babett Knudsen). Both spouses end up wearing the cursed crimson dress, and reap the horrors that come with it.

Image via Youtube

The movie is a visual force. While featuring more substance of character and dialogue than most surrealist horror fare, In Fabric features enough scenes of inexplicable and ambiguous terror to keep its dream logic and fantastical elements in tact. The influence of which is clearly Euro-Horror and the style of such directors like Dario Argento. Dentley & Soper featuring a neon rainbow of colors, from their clothesline to their bizarre commercials that feel like a cross between Halloween III‘s Silver Shamrock and Ken Russell’s Tommy. Explanations for the weirdness is few and far-between, but we’re all the better for it. There is no reason for a nightmare, you simply go along for the ride, which makes such seemingly innocuous things like a dress, a mannequin, or a washing machine scary as hell in the context.

Image via Youtube

The cast is brilliant as they either deal with, or are in some strange way a part of the madness of In Fabric. A personal favorite being the recurring scenes of bank managers Stash and Clive (The Mighty Boosh‘s Julian Barratt and Sightseers Steve Oram). They’re quirky and affable, and they don’t seem to have anything to do with the main horror of the story, yet there’s an overbearing element of menace behind their smiles and niceties. While the movie is split in part, there are threads that connect them, between characters and locations. I’d need to see it again just to try and put all the pieces together. The unifying thread of course being Dentley & Soper and their occultist staff. Fatma Mohamed’s clerk character leads a practical coven of fashionistas in bizarre and explicit rituals after hours. But as to their goals and origins, we are simply left to ponder what is the true evil nature of the store.

Peter Strickland’s In Fabric is definitely not for everyone. At two hours in runtime, the story rolls at a snail’s pace. But great in setting up and building on the tension. A scene of slicing vegetables had me on edge, wound up so high on tension. While there are no clear answers or explanation, it only makes the terror all the more visceral. Peter Strickland has taken a nightmare from his mind and put it on screen.

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Aubrey Plaza Wants to be the Next Tim Burton With ‘Hocus Pocus’ Like Film

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Aubrey Plaza has long been a self-affirmed “sea hag”. Her dark personality and sense of humor has long been a favorite of ours. Now, with her production company, Evil Hag Productions, she intends to make a family-friendly film that is something like Tim Burton meets Hocus Pocus.

While talking to GQ, Plaza said that she would like to “…fill the Tim Burton slot” by putting together her first directorial effort. The family-friendly affair is said to be a mix of Beetlejuice and Hocus Pocus.

Plaza can currently be seen in Evil Hag Production’s Emily the Criminal and on HBO’s White Lotus season 2.

We can’t wait to see what Plaza has to offer in her directorial efforts. It would be great to see her built a brand and aesthetic as awesome as Burton’s.

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M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Knock at the Cabin’ Finds Danger Right Outside

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Knock

M. Night Shyamalan’s next film is already on its way. The ominous Knock at the Cabin is incredibly intriguing, especially since the first trailer gave away so little. The first poster for Knock at the Cabin is just as ominous as the teaser.

Shyamalan’s last film Old, played up the Twilight Zone like mystery and took it to Sci-Fi levels. Knock at the Cabin looks to trump that and move far into the horror/thriller genre.

The synopsis for Knock at the Cabin goes like this:

“While vacationing at a remote cabin, a young girl and her parents are taken hostage by four armed strangers who demand that the family make an unthinkable choice to avert the apocalypse. With limited access to the outside world, the family must decide what they believe before all is lost.”

Knock at the Cabin arrives in theaters beginning February 3.

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‘Cocaine Bear’ Gives Us One of the Wildest Posters of the Year

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Cocaine

Elizabeth Banks has decided to grace our eyeballs with one of the wildest titles, posters and film synopsis’ of the past decade. I’m of course talking about Cocaine Bear. This true story is one of those that you have to see to believe. But, the title is exactly what you think it is.

Kentucky 1985 was the time and place. A really unlucky bear ingested a lot of cocaine that was dropped in the woods by a smuggler. Unfortunately, the bear died from an overdose but not before going on a real rager beforehand.

Deadline’s synopsis for Cocaine Bear is as follows:

“The movie finds an oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converging in a Georgia forest where a 500- pound apex predator has ingested a staggering amount of cocaine and gone on a coke-fueled rampage for more blow … and blood.”

The film stars Keri Russell, Ray Liotta, Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Cocaine Bear comes raging into theaters February 24.

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