A24 will be releasing the latest Peter Strickland opus in the U.S. later this year; for fans of his previous ventures post 2009’s Katalin Varga, Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy, it’s an enticing prospect. While Ben Wheatley’s output has been variable (Free Fire and High Rise were let-downs), Strickland’s work has been remarkably consistent, and this bizarre horror/comedy reveals no drop in quality. Wheatley executive produces here, a strange, lyrical, poetic, blood in the kitchen-sink drama about a killer dress. Seen slinking around the floor or hovering above the characters, it’s a slinky red number, initially fancied by downtrodden divorcee Sheila (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) to give her confidence for some dates. The department store Sheila buys it from is an odd place, with mannequins, pervy staff and vamping sale-women who speak in strange, loquacious tongues. This initial set-up, however, proves deceptive, as the story switches unexpectedly and focuses more on the minutiae of washing machine repair for the second hour; Strickland has always been an eclectic bird, and while there’s elements of Amicus and Tigon films here, as before, the writer/director brews them up into a stew that’s heady, baffling and hugely entertaining for the open minded. And if that’s not enticement enough, Gwendoline Christie has a brief but memorable role where she burns up the screen as the arrogant lover of Sheila’s son, Julian Barratt does a nice comedic turn as an HR man, and Sidse Babett Knudsen knocks it out of the park as Jill the sales-lady. British audiences haven’t rushed to In Fabric, but it’s likely to be a cult film from the ages; In Fabric is well acted, sumptuously mounted and designed, and defiantly weird and wonderful in a way that will leaving you talking for hours/days/months afterwards. If nothing else, you could always throw a great fancy-dress party in the style of be these characters; just think twice about what you want to wear.
In Fabric is in UK cinemas from June 28th 2019 and can be streamed via the Curzon website.