A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that In Fabric is a surreal horror movie inspired by Italian and English genre movies of the 1960s and 1970s. It's more nightmarish and unsettling than it is scary, and, while it's very well made, it will really only appeal to a certain breed of horror hound. Expect several scenes of blood and gore, a vicious dog attack, monster attacks, jump scares and loud noises, death, a car crash, fighting, a brawl, and general chaos (with fire). Sexual content is quite graphic, with some unusual behavior (a woman touches the "real" vagina of a store mannequin, while a man watches and masturbates). Scenes also show passionate kissing, implied sex, oral sex, explicit sexual artwork, sex-related dialogue, and more. Language is infrequent but includes "a--hole," "bitch," "ass," and "bastard." Characters drink heavily in a bar and get very drunk; one vomits on the ground.
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What's the story?
IN FABRIC introduces viewers to Sheila (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), who's recently separated from her husband and living with her grown son, Vince (Jaygann Ayeh). Lonely, Sheila places a dating ad and sets out to buy a perfect dress. A strange shop, promoted by bewitching TV ads, offers her a one-of-a-kind red dress that fits perfectly. But Sheila's first date goes badly, she finds the tension rising in her home as Vince brings home a model/girlfriend (Sidse Babett Knudsen), and weird things start happening around the dress. The washing machine is destroyed while trying to clean it, the garment moves around by itself, and it magically mends itself. But even after Sheila's nightmare is over, things continue when Reg (Leo Bill) is forced to wear the dress at his stag party.
Is it any good?
Inspired by Italian and English horror movies of the 1960s and '70s, this surreal nightmare offers inspired imagery and unsettling sound design, but it may run a little too long to sustain its spell. Written and directed by Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio, The Duke of Burgundy), In Fabric is quite unlike, say, the 2018 remake of Suspiria in that it seems to get inside the giallo and horror genres, rather than simply paying homage to them. This film is less interested in providing simple scares than it is in depicting the creeping logic of a nightmare. (Several scenes are devoted to characters actually describing their own creepy nightmares.)
It's an impressive achievement in tactile, intuitive filmmaking, finding a mesmerizing flow that rises above a typical monster movie. Yet In Fabric slips a little in its second half. Jean-Baptiste is so good and so genuine in the first half that when things switch over to the almost comically mismatched couple -- meek, turkeylike Reg and bossy, chatty Babs (Hayley Squires) -- the movie begins to feel more like a parody. Strickland has enough visual and aural themes to finally sew things together in a satisfying way, but the switch leaves the second half somewhat ill-fitting. If only someone could have taken the material in a little bit, this movie could have been even more shockingly satisfying.
Talk to your kids about ...
How does the movie depict sex? What values are imparted?
How scary is the movie? What's the appeal of horror movies?
What does "surreal" mean? Which scenes in this movie are surreal?
Why do you think some filmmakers choose to pay homage to works that were made in the past? Why is returning to the past so interesting or powerful?
- In theaters: December 6, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: February 11, 2020
- Cast: Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Hayley Squires, Leo Bill
- Director: Peter Strickland
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sexual content including a scene of aberrant behavior, and some bloody images
- Last updated: February 10, 2020
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