When a possessed pair of jeans begins to kill the staff of a trendy clothing store, it is up to Libby, an idealistic young salesclerk, to stop its bloody rampage.
Starring: Romane Denis, Brett Donahue, Sehar Bhojani | Runtime: 1 hr 17 minutes | Genre: Horror Comedy | Source: Shudder | Starred Review
This newly released Canadian Horror comedy was doing the rounds at film festivals last year and has now been released on horror streaming service, Shudder.
Libby has finally landed her dream job as a sales clerk at one of the lead stores for forward thinking fashion brand CCC. Her first day coincides with the launch of a brand-new product and the store goes into full lockdown so that the staff can prepare for opening day.
When staff begin to go missing, Libby stumbles onto some uncomfortable truths about the brand, as well as the fact that the jeans due to launch tomorrow may be the very murderer they are looking for.
If this all sounds a little odd, then you’d not be wrong in thinking so. Fans of the 2010 horror satire movie ‘Rubber’ about a homicidal car tyre will be in their element here and will know broadly what to expect. Slaxx may be a bit of an acquired taste but those willing to look past the silliness of the premise will be rewarded with a solid, entertaining movie.
Horror comedy is a tough nut to crack, and a lot of films tend to either pack in so many jokes it forgets that it’s a horror film, or goes too far the other way and jokes fail to land as they should. Slaxx works brilliantly because it takes an inherently silly premise and (mostly) play it fairly straight from there on out. The humour comes the situations and it allows the horror to work effectively without losing sight of the fact that, at the end of the day, it is a story about a pair of jeans that can kill you.
The film works very effectively as a light horror comedy, but is equally strong when it comes to lampooning the fast fashion industry. Director Elza Kephart gets a lot of mileage early on by caricaturing both the store and the employees. The store is set up into ‘ecosystems’ (read that as one colour palette here, the other over there) and the employees are, with the obvious exception of Libby, obnoxious, judgemental and tightly wound, making them pleasantly satisfying fodder for the blood thirsty pants.
Underneath the silliness of Slaxx there is a serious message about how some big brands claims of its ethical practices warrant a further look, and the finger is pointed equally between consumer and manufacturer. Not to labour the point (this is a comedy after all) but if you need your movies to have a reason to be, outside of the fact that it’s just pure entertainment, then there is plenty of food for thought once all is said and done.
Although Romane Denis gets top billing as Libby, hats off have to go to Visual Effects team behind the creation of the titular Slaxx, because they look fantastic. They are genuinely (and surprisingly) threatening when they are called upon to be so, and it was strangely unnerving at times to see a pair of jeans, waistband forming a wide-open mouth, slowly crawling toward an unsuspecting victim, or simply walking down a corridor. They also get some of the films’ biggest laughs (a Bollywood dance number being a particular highlight). Dodgy SFX could have brought the movie down, but they are surprisingly effective here.
The cast are all clearly having a great time and the fact that the majority of them get to play larger than life, vapid mean kids who are there to rack up a body count gives them free reign to go all out and go big with the limited screen time they have before being bisected, devoured or otherwise eviscerated by the pissed off pants out for their blood. Special mentions to Brett Donahue as store manager Craig, whose psychotic levels of false cheer and company loyalty are scene stealingly funny, and Sehar Bhojani as the jaded Shruti, who gets the best the film has to offer in terms of character development. It isn’t just the cast firing on all cylinders either. The script is strong, and smart and the direction is assured and distinctive. It is great to see a film where everyone seems to be working toward the same vision and everything about this film clicks in this regard.
Its campy and silly but it’s also a lot of fun. With a lean 77 minute runtime (including credits) the film doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and balances the horror and comedy very well, whilst also being very effective as a satire without hitting its audience over their head with its message. If you’re in the mood for something light and funny, you can’t go wrong with a nice pair of Slaxx.
Richard is an avid reader and fan of all things horror. He supports Indie Horror lit via Twitter and reviews horror in all its forms for various websites, including IndieMuse and SciFi and Scary.
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