Take a large scoop of creepy David Lynchian atmosphere. Slice with daggers of black humor. Mix in an increasing amount of Terry Gilliamesque absurdist surrealism. Spice with a Dario Argentoesque visual aesthetic. Bring to a boil.
I only compare writer-director Peter Strickland’s singular voice to others to conjure a sense of the In Fabric experience, not to condemn it as a pastiche. This film breaks new ground.
The narrative through-line concerns a cursed dress. Strickland treats his antagonist with the same deadpan absurdity that Quentin Dupieux did the homicidal tire in Rubber. The dress proves a MacGuffin, as our attention turns to the bizarre world Strickland crafts around it. From a coven of witches staffing a department store, to bank managers concerned with employees’ handshake skills, to washer repairmen capable of inducing an ASMR-like response when discussing a maintenance issue, Strickland’s world proves captivating despite its ever-present sense of menace.
And lest you worry the film is all style and no narrative substance, know I found the ending quite satisfying. Indeed, I look forward to revisiting this film, and wouldn’t be surprised if subsequent viewings nudge it up a grade.
That said, I’m disappointed there’s no HDR physical media release. I watched it on iTunes and can’t imagine it without the saturation HDR affords colors like “Artery Red”.