That’s right: Slaxx is about a pair of uber-stylish jeans that become sentient and homicidal. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better hook for what’s ultimately a cautionary tale about the dangers of fast fashion—or a film that explores those themes with such deadpan humor and commitment to theatrical splatter.
The entire movie, which was co-written and directed by Elza Kephart and runs just 77 minutes without any wasted space, takes place in the same location: a Canadian Cotton Clothes store, which has kind of an American Apparel-ish “overpriced basics” aesthetic. Everyone who works there is catty to each other, but they all buy into CCC’s cult-like corporate mindset, where the clothing is proudly advertised as being fair trade, sweatshop-free, totally organic, non-GMO, etc. Bright-eyed new hire Libby (Romaine Denis) shows up for her first shift just as CCC is about to unveil its latest launch: “Super Shapers” jeans, touted as having the near-magical ability to make everybody’s butt look perfect in them, no matter their size.
Turns out there is something magical about the jeans, but not in a flattering way. “Killer jeans” is admittedly a goofy concept—and it’s not the first time in recent memory we’ve had a murderous clothing item; remember In Fabric?—but it works because the cast is so committed, the setting so contained, the motivation behind the pants’ rampage so surprisingly worthy (if a little obvious), and the special effects (who knew disembodied pants could be so expressive...and terrifying?) so lovingly rendered.
As Libby, Denis gets the only thing resembling a character arc as she navigates her new workplace. Her enthusiasm soon morphs into something way less positive once she meets her coworkers—an unwelcoming group very fond of passive-aggressive snarking through their earpieces—and then even less positive once people start turning up horribly mutilated. The smarmy store manager, Craig (Brett Donahue), who’s secretly referred to as “Robot King” by his underlings, is so focused on the Super Shapers launch—which has the added horror-trope wrinkle of locking everyone into the store overnight while they stock the shelves—that he’s reluctant to do anything other than stash the bloody corpses of his employees so they don’t draw attention away from the event, or hurt his chances at landing a big promotion.
Slaxx also has a fun moment satirizing social media influencers, and includes a pretty delightful Bollywood reference that keeps its last act from just being a full-on gorefest—not that we’d object to that. It must be said that Slaxx comes up with some wonderfully creative demonstrations of just how a pair of pissed-off pants might take down a human victim.
Watching those vicious, animated pants in action is really the main reason to watch Slaxx. We all know that fast fashion comes from an insidious place, and any corporate culture that tries to brainwash its employees and customers into buying into slogans like “make a better tomorrow today” (as CCC does, repeatedly) is immediately not to be trusted. But if you’re looking for a fast-paced, fun, occasionally extremely gross horror-comedy with some social commentary tucked in behind all the severed torsos and spurting limbs—Slaxx definitely fits the bill.
Slaxx arrives on Shudder March 18.
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