Movie #25 2021: In Fabric (2018)

What? As you can probably tell by the image used above, this film is more than bizarre. While it will seem like nothing more than a horror film after you read its synopsis, let me assure you, this is more like an art-house, insane nightmare.

In Fabric has a pretty succinct, specific premise: it’s about a demonic dress that sets out to murder anyone who wears it. Is it a ghost? Nope. More like… a curse? Marianne Jean-Baptiste plays the lead role of Sheila; the first person we see becoming a slave to the dress. At first, everything seems fine, of course. Where’s the fun in the dress just killing her immediately? Alas, it begins to toy with her, and as she succumbs to its terror, the film moves onto the next victim… And the next…

The alternative title to this movie should be as follows: Phantom Threads. (Sorry about the terrible movie snob joke.) If you read the description I just gave you and thought ‘well that sounds lame’, don’t worry: you’re not the only one. I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy this either because the premise sounds so hokey… but I’m actually pleasantly surprised!

Right from the opening images, there’s something so atmospheric and creepy about this film. I don’t know whether it was the white noise or the bizarre imagery, but it had me holding my breath several times even if I didn’t fully understand the lore and reasoning behind it all. They won’t completely explain it either, but the film’s ending does give the viewer some leeway to debate with peers over what the hell was going on here, so that’s quite nice.

Look, it’s just really fucking weird, okay?! Why the tits does that mannequin have a bleeding vagina? Why is there a wrinkly old man masturbating over said mannequin? Why is there a close up of his semen floating through the air? I have so many questions and I don’t even know if I want them answering… Wait, yes I do. And no, I don’t need answers.

Visually, there’s a lot to marvel in here. The aesthetics and the framing of In Fabric demonstrate some real mastery from director Peter Strickland, but the fact that I couldn’t figure out the time period was really off putting for reasons unknown. It felt like the sixties at times, but then sometimes it seemed way more modern. Perhaps that was intentional to make the viewer feel uneasy, but I was mainly just confused. It’s questionable whether or not that worked in all honesty, but I’ll admit: I did feel a bit light-headed afterwards. So… target met, I guess?

Marianne Jean-Baptiste gives a haunting yet realistic performance (this is the first film I’ve seen her in – oops), and I’d have probably enjoyed it less were she not in it. It’s weird, then, once you realise she’s only in the first half of the movie (plus a small scene that is void of dialogue towards the end) and the new victims are ushered in.

Ultimately – whether Jean-Baptiste is present or not – it’s just so damn odd that although I appreciate the originality of thought and creativity behind it, I won’t be in a rush to watch it again.

If stylised horror is your thing, give it a go. Just prepare to be weirded out in the process…

In Fabric is available to buy on Amazon for £4.99. (Sky Cinema customers will find the movie regularly playing on the Sky Cinema Sci-Fi and Horror channel, so keep an eye out… or set it to record!)

TQR Category Ratings:

Costume & Set Design: 
Overall Rating:  (It’s definitely more of a 3.5, but hey ho.)

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