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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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‘Cloverfield’ Film Finds a Director To Helm Next Entry

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Cloverfield

We have seen an incredible three Cloverfield-based films so far. The latest being Cloverfield Paradox on Netflix. The latest in the series also managed to lose steam for the secretive franchise. It went too far into the explanation of secrets that we had seen in the first two films. Once the wizard is discovered behind the curtain the game loses its momentum and fun. The upcoming Cloverfield film has found its director from Under the Shadow’s Babak Anvari.

The director’s Under the Shadow was a great piece of horror. It was entirely effective in its scares and story.

There is no word on where the fourth Cloverfield film will take audiences. But, that is for the best. These films have always been shrouded in secrecy and that is what has made them fun. Well… the first two films anyway.

The synopsis for Cloverfield went like this:

As a group of New Yorkers (Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman) enjoy a going-away party, little do they know that they will soon face the most terrifying night of their lives. A creature the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Using a handheld video camera, the friends record their struggle to survive as New York crumbles around them.

We are happy to see that Anvari is going to helm this entry. We can’t wait to see what he brings to the franchise and to see what direction this entry takes.

What has been your favorite Cloverfield chapter?

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‘The Winchesters’ Trailer Effectively Adds Another Chapter to ‘Supernatural’

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Winchesters

If you thought that Supernatural was over after its very long and successful run, think again. The Winchesters takes us back into the world of Supernatural in a prequel. The series will go way back to tell the story of John and Mary who are the very reason that we have Sam and Dean.

The first trailer for the new series is looking particularly great and effectively adding to Supernatural lore.

The synopsis for The Winchesters goes like this:

Before Sam and Dean, there was John and Mary. Told from the perspective of narrator Dean Winchester, this is the epic, untold love story of how John met Mary, and how they put it all on the line to not only save their love, but the entire world..

The Winchesters premieres on October 7 via CW.

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Netflix’s ‘Dahmer’ Already in The Number One Spot

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Dahmer

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story only just arrived on Netflix earlier this week and it has already managed to move to Netflix’s number one spot. The 10-episode nightmare goes into nightmarish details of the Milwaukee Monster. In fact, the details that the series dives into have caused a backlash among some viewers. There has been an outcry by some viewers that beg audiences not to romanticize the Dahmer just because Evan Peters is playing him.

The new series has a score of 91 on Rotten Tomatoes and that score doesn’t appear to be going down anytime soon.

The synopsis for Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story goes like this:

Between 1978 and 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer gruesomely took the lives of seventeen innocent victims. DAHMER – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is a series that exposes these unconscionable crimes, centered around the underserved victims and their communities impacted by the systemic racism and institutional failures of the police that allowed one of America’s most notorious serial killers to continue his murderous spree in plain sight for over a decade.

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is now streaming on Netflix.

Have you watched yet?

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