In Fabric (2018)
A film about a haunted dress. A brilliant film about a haunted dress. It may have been released in 2018 but it has all the hallmarks and style of an early 80s indie thriller. Set in that decade, it really is thrilling. A time warp of glitchy TV, bad wallpaper and a synth heavy score. It’s not cheap feeling though. This is brilliantly put together. No great surprise from director Peter Strickland, who’s Berberian Sound Studio sets a similar disturbing tone. Shelia (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) is divorced. Living with her teenage son, working an unfulfilling job. She’s lonely. Answering personal ads in the paper she gets a date. She needs a dress and buys one from Miss Luckmoore (Fatma Mohamed), a smooth, mysterious, poetic sales assistant with an air of something supernatural who works at Dentley & Soper’s. A weird store that seems to have a perpetual sale. We’re in the realms of Lynch levels of weirdness, with an Argento vibe, which is of course wonderful and it’s not long before I’m completely on board. The dating scene is tough, certainly for Sheila. Who only manages to only find deadbeats. That’s the least of her problems. She’s got her son’s bitchy girlfriend living with them, her bloody weird bosses, including the dark comic genius of Julian Barratt and... the haunted dress. The dress seems to be giving Sheila a rash, but top tip, don’t put possessed garments in the washing machine! It’s a fun, slightly schlocky, dramatic and packed with LSD infused fantasy. The kitchen sink politics of home life, cut with the cult B-Movie of the department store where Sheila shops, run by a group of goth inspired, mannequin loving sexual deviants, really does create a wild ride. It’s obvious that Sheila has got herself into something a bit unusual. Fed up with the dress related injuries, she tries to get rid of it. Maybe not the way she thought though. The whole town seems to be being drawn under a spell of the freaky shop or more to the vampiric staff. It’s great. Quirky, disturbing, surprisingly funny. Things take a twist as we enter the third act with the dress finding a new reluctant owner, Reg (Leo Bill). I’ve seriously not a clue where this is all going, which again is brilliant. If you like weird atmospheric cult cinema. This has you covered and then some. Whatever I was expecting, it wasn’t this. The sort of film that lives with you... like a vacant dress floating above your bed as you sleep.