SLAXX (Fantasia Fest 2020)

On the surface, when someone says to you – “hey do you wanna watch this weird movie about a haunted clothing item?”, the concept seems silly, goofy even. We’ve all seen “Rubber”. Most of us have seen (and in our case put on screenings of) “In Fabric”. When I first heard about Elza Kephart’s “SLAXX”, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect beyond something obviously very different but I certainly was not expecting to be as grabbed by a film about haunted fucking blue jeans as I was. And I’m not the only one, as SLAXX has gotten picked up by Shudder, which means that this film is going to get out to a wider audience of horror fans who can also come for the camp and stay for the anti-capitalism.

SLAXX starts simply enough – we are introduced to a company called “Canadian Cotton Clothiers” and we see their “experimental cotton field” in India in which we see several women and girls dressed in traditional sari picking the soft cotton buds into a large basket. The scene in the fields fades to a store that looks like American Apparel and the Gap spent a night binge-drinking and threw up colourways all over the goddamn place and that is CCC – Canadian Cotton Clothiers. Libby, played by Romane Denis, is a CCC-superfan and she’s over the moon about just having landed a temp-job at CCC. She loves the clothing, the mantra, and specifically the so-called “ethical” nature of the store – organic, fair trade, made without slave labour, made without use of child labour. She is hired as part of a team to start a midnight change over of product and unveil a new kind of body hugging denim – the Super Shaper.

From the moment we are thrown into the corporate world of lingo, fake positivity, non-stop company branding and the almost cult like behaviour inspired in the staff, it got me thinking about all the jobs I’ve worked for various corporations where at the end of the day you end up feeling like just another Xeroxed price tag and you catch yourself launching into your script like a Pavlovian reflex. This is corporate culture, and specifically the fast fashion nature of capitalism that treats everything and everyone like something disposable from product to employees to things that go far deeper – and this here is what SLAXX is commenting on.

The Super Shaper jean is the next hot item, the newest thing a corporation has prescribed and sold as a cure for the ennui of living in a capitalist society. The pants promise to conform to the body of anyone using specially grown cotton, and when one of the cashiers at CCC slips on a pair, she finds out that the jeans hug more than just booty, as they rip her in half, gnawing at her body with a comically gaping maw made of the waist of the jeans. And as the jeans begin to hunt through the stock room looking for staff to eat, the staff on the sales floor are preparing for the arrival of a YouTube fashion blogger who is portrayed quite accurately as just as fake as the corporation she’s shilling for. There’s a vapidity to all of it and it seems like only Shruti (played by Sehar Bohjani) the disenfranchised and sarcastic employee seems to see through the corporate newspeak. As bodies begin to literally and figuratively pile up, manager Craig refuses to do anything about the warzone in his stock room as he’s clawing for a regional manager position and doesn’t want anything to get in the way of his corporate ladder climbing. This really got me thinking on how brilliant of a commentary SLAXX truly is.

When the identity of the entity possessing the Super Shaper jeans is revealed, the corporate image of CCC is shattered and Libby is forced to reconcile her love of fast fashion with her morals about doing what is right.

SLAXX is delightfully bloody, oddly poignant, and serves as such immensely powerful social commentary, that I swear this film is pure genius. It manages so artfully and stylishly to poke fun while being funny, and simultaneously drilling home an intense scolding about the downfalls of corporations, capitalism, and what’s really going on behind corporate buzzwords.
I honestly can’t ever really say enough about this film, because it was just so utterly perfect, and the bloopers reel at the end had me completely howling – there’s something so hilarious about a pair of disembodied pants dancing around that really made for fun and socially conscious viewing.

I hope this team continues to make more, because I need it in front of my eyeballs.

DIAG RATING 6/6 – a silly haunted object film with a decidedly form fitting anti-capitalist message.

You can check out more of our Fantasia coverage here:

The Drunk in a Graveyard guide to the TEN FILMS we are most psyched about at Fantasia Fest 2020.

Our interview with Detention (返校) director John Hsu 徐漢強 is here and our review of Detention (返校) can be found here, coverage of JUMBO, coverage of THE OAK ROOM, coverage of The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw, coverage of The Undertaker’s Home (La Funeralia) is here, coverage of YOU CANNOT KILL DAVID ARQUETTE is here, Brea Grant’s 12 HOUR SHIFT and Ryan Spindell’s THE MORTUARY COLLECTION can be found on our latest podcast episode, and coverage of Amelia Moses’s BLEED WITH ME, 上田慎一郎 Shinichiro Ueda’s SPECIAL ACTORS, Neil Marshall’s THE RECKONING, short film DOPPELBÅNGER here, as well as our podcast episode on Justin McConnell’s documentary Clapboard Jungle here. And be sure to stay tuned for more coverage coming up soon, and follow our social media to keep up!

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