Elza Kephart’s sharp horror satire Slaxx gives us a film they never knew we needed. A pair of possessed jeans take their anger out on everyone in a chic clothing store. We have a film here that is an utter joy to watch, yet despite all of the absurdity has a clear and pointed message.
A possessed pair of jeans is brought to life to punish a trendy clothing company’s unscrupulous practices. Shipped to the company’s flagship store, Slaxx proceeds to wreak carnage on staff locked in overnight to set up the new collection.
Bit of an eye-catching synopsis, right? Let’s break it down a bit more for you. Libby (Romane Denis) is a doe-eyed innocent starting her new job in CCC’s ethical clothes company. Luckily for her, the company’s owner is presenting staff with the new jeans that fit your form. With everything needing to be perfect for the release of the new jeans and a famous influencer’s arrival to help promote the line, CCC goes into overnight lockdown. Sadly for the staff, they are being hunted one by one by one of those wonderful jeans.
Honestly, if you are not sold immediately to watch a film with that premise, then there is no hope. Director Elza Kephart has created a wonderful film here and one that would work just as well without the possessed jeans as it does with them. Though, of course, sentient possessed jeans are always welcome in any film from now on. The mixture of keeping some of the deaths and gore is hidden from full view of the audience, and the graphic nature of some of the deaths shows a filmmaker who is confident that what she has presented is enough. Making the audience guess what happened to a victim awakens more fear and horror that has to show it. Simple but very effective, this is horror 101, and it is a joy.
Taking a bit of influence from our fave Rubber. Slaxx takes you on the silliest of times by poking fun at everything to do with working for a big brand company and their uppity staff who think they are too good for you, to social media influencers out their soulless acts for anyone who will listen. We have a film here that is as committed to the bit as you will see and, due to it knowing what type of film it is, thrives from it to bring a delightful experience.
What helps Slaxx so much is that the jeans do not simply use the same techniques to murder its complete aesthetic wanting victims; we have a wide number of creative depths that show how much joy being had here. When needed, each death is inventive and brings all the gore and daftness that you could dream of. Yet, under all of the comedy and death is an obvious message against consumerism and the indirect casualties of wanting the latest item.
By introducing the reason as to why the jeans are possessed and so vengeful to those who run the store and those who want to wear them, we can have a further appreciation for how sharp and on the nose the film is. It loses a little bit of surrealism. However, that is returned with gusto later in the film by a scene involving music that is best left for you to enjoy. The message does stick, though, and it is biting to the overindulgence of consumerism.
Assisted, of course, by having some truly horrible staff here to murder. We get a good sense of any of our thoughts of what it is like to work in a high-end chic clothes retailer. Certainly, it felt reminiscent of what it feels like when you go into one as a customer. Full of cynicism and falseness, these are staff members that you are begging to get slaughtered.
The pièce de résistance out of this hateful lot is the store manager Craig who aspires to rise up through the ranks and do everything he can to get there. He naturally takes it further than you would imagine due to the absurd story. But again he is a character the feels real enough to have seen before in real life. We all know that staff member who will do anything to get a jump up, and as Craig cracks under the pressure of the murders, We wait with glee to see what writers Patricia Gomez and Elza Kephart have in store for him.
It may seem as if a lot has been written about the writing of Slaxx, but it really is the star of the film. Which may seem odd when talking about a film concerning a possessed pair of jeans murdering people. The strength in the callbacks and lived in nature of this film makes you settle in quicker; helped by its sharp script, it allows the horror moments to take centre stage while still telling us that child labour and the treatment of people from certain countries has not changed and potentially may never change. The companies just change their tack to look good, and unless someone delves a little deeper into their acts, they will continue to get away with it.
By keeping true to its message, Slaxx becomes a film that can be thoroughly enjoyed by all (the premise challenges you not to love it). At the end, leaving you with an imaginative film that has no right to be as good as it is. A shining beacon of creativity.
Streaming Exclusively on Shudder March 18th
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