SLAXX (2020)

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Studio:      Shudder/The Horror Collective
Director:    Elza Kephart
Writer:      Patricia Gomez Zlatar, Elza Kephart
Producer:  Anne-Marie Gelinas, Patricia Gomez Zlatar
Stars:     Romane Denis, Brett Donahue, Sehar Bhojani, Stephen Bogaert

Review Score:

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Summary:

A possessed pair of designer jeans goes on an unexpected killing spree inside a trendy clothing store with a shameful secret.


Synopsis:     

Review:

Fictional retailer Canadian Cotton Clothiers nails the obnoxious atmosphere of every real-life mall boutique that¡¯s ever been lit with neon or had droning digital beats thumping over its speakers. Sections of the store are eye-rollingly referred to as ¡°ecosystems.¡± Monocolor portraits of models accompanying inspirational slogans adorn each wall. Employees robotically rush around chirping over headsets as though preparing for a fresh fashion line launch carries the crucial importance of a Mars lander mission.

Accordingly, Canadian Cotton Clothiers is staffed by precisely the people you¡¯d expect. Stereotypes start trickling down from the top with CEO Harold Landsgrove, a supposed humanitarian whose pretentious pep talks are readymade for clothing cultists who can¡¯t get enough of his Kool-Aid. Eating up his ¡°organic only¡± and ¡°no sweatshops¡± rhetoric is Libby, a chipper teen excited for her first night on the job as our heart-of-gold hero. Far less enthused about the crush of customers coming for the company¡¯s hot new Super Shaper jeans is Shruti, the disgruntled lifer who has been with the store long enough to regret the rut. Jemma, Hunter, and Lord are more self-absorbed snoots who can¡¯t be bothered with a newbie like Libby, unless it¡¯s to make a condescending quip. Roping everyone together is Craig, the tightly wound manager whose singular focus on obtaining a promotion makes him incapable of caring about anything else.

This standard set of personalities is the salt grain that has to be swallowed to have a shot at synching with ¡°Slaxx.¡± As an airy parody of designer fashion¡¯s consumer stage, the film¡¯s humor purposefully comes from clich¨¦s. It¡¯s not ¡°dumb¡± comedy, although the movie still weighs no more than a feather. If expectations aren¡¯t braced for puffball pastiche, they could get trampled in a stampede of superficial send-ups lightly lampooning Instagram influencers and stuck-up store clerks.

The horror half hits harder. When a pair of sinisterly sentient jeans begins building up a bloody body count, ¡°Slaxx¡± keeps commonness to the characters and gets more creative with the kills. The deadly denim constricts until a torso tears in two, uses its zipper to sever appendages, and violently twists to trip one woman into a coat hook that pierces her skull. ¡°Slaxx¡± often serves splatter with side orders of silliness. The possessed pants might morph into a mouth to gnaw one man down to the bone or take a brief break to dance to a Bollywood musical number. For horror-hungry viewers, the variety of fantastical deaths on display cancels out some of those aforementioned tropes to bring the entertainment value back to level.

Three out of five stars is an exceptionally good score for ¡°Slaxx¡± because the film has such lean meat on its basic bones, it couldn¡¯t qualify for a rating higher than that. The movie loosely laces up a moral concerning the consequences of trendy clothing exploiting cheap child labor. It¡¯s hardly an in-your-face message that¡¯s unwelcomingly preachy. But it¡¯s the most meaningful tether keeping ¡°Slaxx¡± from completely floating away in a B-movie breeze.

Overall, ¡°Slaxx¡± retains the tone of a lighthearted lark. Being an uncomplicated quickie topping out at just 10 minutes over an hour, there isn¡¯t anything left to talk about to tip over the minimum word count. That simply speaks to the kind of easygoing entertainment ¡°Slaxx¡± offers.

NOTE: There is a post-credits scene.

Review Score: 60