I don't know about you, but I have certainly reached the dimension of remorse plenty of times in my life. Self-induced haircuts, drinking champagne, of all things, all night at a friend's birthday celebration, all those innocent people I murdered, my "I look cool in Hawaiian shirts" phase in middle school, that time I made a bucked teeth face for a driver's license photo because I thought it would be funny...I could go on and on forever. But lo, I reached the dimension that is diametrically opposed to remorse last night when I wrapped myself In Fabric, the 2018...experience from writer/director Peter Strickland, which garnered three votes and entered the 2020 list of your favorite horror movies at #297.
However, I did enter the dimension of shame when I noted (to myself only! I would never admit it publicly) that this was only my first time seeing it. Yes, my first time, despite the fact that I would kill and/or die for Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy...despite the fact that all the way back in 2018 I was like "HOLY SHIT a new Strickland movie? About a cursed dress? I NEED TO SEE IT RIGHT NOW!" And despite the fact that when it got those votes in 2020 I said "HOLY SHIT why haven't I watched In Fabric yet even though a copy has been sitting on my shelf for like two years now?" I am going to blame the pandemic as the reason why it's taken me so long, even though there is no dimension where that makes sense. And I guess it doesn't really matter, does it, since I've now seen it and here we are, gathered together to talk about it. Rejoice!
If you've seen any Peter Strickland movies, than you might have an inkling of how In Fabric will tell the tale of a cursed dress. That is to say, it won't tell you much of anything concrete (nary an origin story to be found here). It will be absolutely sumptuous to behold, and during the proceedings you might say to yourself or anyone around you, "Man, I bet Peter Strickland's living space is so gorgeous and cool" because you just know it is. You may not be able to pinpoint where or when the movie is set, because even if a moment has you saying "Okay, this is the 70s," your tenuous grasp on reality will slip away just as quickly. I think The Duke of Burgundy is a great example of this uniquely Strickland phenomenon. He has a way of creating worlds that seem, I don't know, just slightly out of step with our own. It's his own kind of magic, and if you are on his wavelength--even if only for the two hours you spend in one of his stories--you are in for a spellbinding treat. Especially since you know that Strickland mainstay Fatma Mohamed will be in there somewhere, giving us sinister and hilarious, quietly stealing every scene she's in.
The simple of this...well, it's something of a fairy tale, isn't it?...is that recently-divorced bank teller Sheila (the always, always, always great Marianne Jean-Baptiste) buys a beautiful red dress at a vaguely Satanic department store, hoping to wow the blind date she found through Lonely Hearts personal ads. Sales clerk Miss Luckmoore (Mohamed) assures her that while the catalogue model Jill (The Duke of Burgundy's Sidse Babett Knudsen) was run over and killed while wearing the dress, it has been thoroughly cleaned--but has it been cleansed of its evil nature?
In Fabric lost me a bit in its second half, as it become progressively weirder and, for reasons I won't spoil even though I'm probably the last person to see this film, I was less invested in what was going on. That said, I appreciated the chaotic ending and I loved this journey from its incredible cast to its moments that genuinely made me laugh out loud to its Halloween III meets Needful Things meets the stylish Eurosleaze of your dreams vibes.
I could go on, but I genuinely think that while it's not an experience for everyone, In Fabric is best if it's just, you know, experienced, and I'm glad I finally fucking got around to it. Besides that, I gotta go because I'm about to reach the dimension of lunch, hey-ooooo!