Criterion Prediction #261: In Fabric, by Alexander Miller
Title: In Fabric
Director: Peter Strickland
Cast: Marianne Jean Baptiste, Fatma Muhammed, Gwendoline Christie, Leo Bill
Synopsis: Strickland’s freewheeling narrative follows the life a cursed dress, the two people that come into its orbit and the otherworldly department store from which it came.
Critique: Isn’t it deliciously weird that in 2018, the horror-thriller that most echoed the work of Dario Argento wasn’t the Suspiria remake but a move about a haunted dress? Of all the throwback happy, modern stylists whose commitment to recreating the look and feel of genre fare from yesteryear Peter Strickland is one director who gets it right. Amid the glut of nostalgia-fueled 80’s fapping going on in horror movies (and television) Peter Strickland is one director who gets it right, gleaning some creative strength in reinterpreting retro aesthetics instead of recreating them. And In Fabric is just that right level of insane merriment. Strickland plays it fast-and-loose with a dedicated feel for the silly and haunting machinations of horror cinema. From Fatma Mohamed’s delightfully emphasized and canny sales clerk performance is a brilliant modern camp, and Marriane Jean Baptiste brings us the requisite level of soulful stability, almost more than the film really needs. Still, she’s so damn engaging why quibble? The inclusion of Gwendoln Christie is an added bonus and smoothes the sometimes jagged dismount that you get when male filmmakers try to make a “women’s movie” via horror genre. I don’t think Peter Strickland is trying to make a statement, but he’s definitely curious about women in a slightly boyishly naughty way that’s playful and harmless.
Why It Belongs in the Collection: There are many ways to detect if Criterion will release a film. In some ways, the best indicator is if another distributor outside North America carries the film. Curzon Artificial Eye hosts recent films currently in the Criterion Collection such as Parasite and Portrait of a Lady on Fire and they also have In Fabric. There are some rumors and buzz on forums and let’s hope there’s some substance to them.