Sisterhood of the Murdering Pants
Slaxx is streaming on Shudder
Well, hello! Got another film to gab about this week?
I sure do.
Terrific! Is it something with the sturm und drang of Justice League? The rampant silliness of Barb and Star? The intense empathy of Nomadland?
Surely it’s the kind of towering cinematic achievement that will inevitably be celebrated at Cannes and/or the Academy Awards?
That’s taking things a bit far. What I’m talking about is a genre piece.
A genre piece?
Okay, fine. A horror movie.
Now we’re on firmer conversational footing! We all know you’re partial to transgressive horror such as I Saw the Devil or High Tension. This week’s film is an exploration of man’s darker side, a grinding endurance test sure to leave viewers quaking in a puddle of their own sweat, right?
I see where you’re going. It’s more like the splatstick of Evil Dead 2, or the backwoods shenanigans in Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, am I right?
Again, sort of? There’s an element of that, only it’s more socially conscious, it has something to say.
Ah ha, now I know what you’re doing, you rascal! You’ve found a film like 2017’s Raw, where a young vegetarian college student engages in depraved acts of cannibalism. Your film is a bloody bon mot for the cocktail circuit.
Actually, it’s a movie about killer jeans.
The what now?
I think you heard me just fine. Killer jeans.
Well, it’s been great talking to you, but I really must be ——
Wait! This isn’t some schlocky piece of crap like Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People.
I would hope not.
It’s a Canadian film called Slaxx, and it’s made with a good amount of style and wit.
Let me just make myself comfortable, and you can tell me all about your Satanic slacks movie that’s allegedly made with…what was it? Oh, yes, “style and wit.”
Condescend much? Jesus.
Anyway, we’re introduced to Canadian Cotton Company, a wildly popular apparel store. The difference is, CCC has amassed a cultlike following. They claim to sell clothing that doesn’t use GMOs or exploit foreign workers, and every transaction is ended with the zippy slogan, “Make a better tomorrow, today.”
Sounds like a certain tech company I know.
Didn’t you just upgrade your iPhone? Again?
…Tell me more about the plot!
It’s Libby’s (Romane Denis) first day there, and she’s deliriously excited to start work at CCC. All is not as it seems when she learns she needs to spend a boatload of money. CCC employees are required to wear CCC clothing at work. Libby points out she’s already wearing CCC clothing. The problem is, her clothes are hideously out of date, nearly a few months old!
Libby also discovers a river of passive aggression that flows through her co-workers. Jemma (Hanneke Talbot) and Hunter (Jessica B. Hill) barely conceal their loathing for each other. They despise Lord (Kenny Wong) even more, the competing supervisor of another department…excuse me, ecosystem. But all of them harbor a fiery hatred for Craig (Brett Donohue), the CCC store manager obsessed with becoming a fabled regional manager! Luckily for Libby, her co-worker Shruti (Sehar Bhojani) doesn’t care about anything, so that’s a plus.
So you were kidding about that whole jeans thing?
I was not. We learn about the Next Big Thing at CCC. These high-tech jeans are designed to fit everyone perfectly by automatically adapting to their unique body contours. Company CEO/visionary Harold Landsgrove (Stephen Bogaert) believes the jeans will be a smash. He’s so confident that he’s invited online influencer Peyton Jules (Erica Anderson) to livestream from the store on the night before launch. What none of them realize is that the jeans are possessed, angry, and hungering for blood!
So it’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but the pants kill people?
Correctamundo! Sorry, I may have gotten a little over-excited.
Regardless, Slaxx is directed with gleeful verve by Elza Kephart. The CCC store is awash in bright colors and obnoxious slogans. When the film mocks phony corporate responsibility, Kephart’s tone is bouncy and snide. As far as the horror is concerned, it’s less scary and more cartoonishly gory. When you see the jeans squeezing the life out of a victim or chomping on an unlucky employee, you’ll likely get giggle fits.
Sure, if you find that sort of thing funny.
Luckily, I do! The screenplay, by Kephart and Patricia Gomez, isn’t the kind of “We’re making a bad movie!” foolishness I’d expect from Sharknado. Gomez and Kephart understand that the core concept is ridiculous, yet their creativity allows them to take aim at the business of fashion and how first-world companies cover their exploitation of labor from developing countries. They’re never preachy and when the jokes hit, they hit hard. Aspects of their script are a touch underwritten. We learn there’s a very specific motivation as to why these cannibalistic khaki cousins are on a rampage, and it’s actually sort of compelling. The actual reason as to why it’s happening is basically magic, though I suppose we don’t really need a hard reason as to why jeans have come to life and are slaughtering people.
Wait just a minute. You’re saying the evil jeans movie is written and directed intelligently?
I am. It ain’t Schindler’s List, but it’s not trying to be.
Surely the acting must be sub-par, off-off-off-off Broadway-caliber levels?
No, the cast knows what they’re in, never condescend to the material, and offer genuinely amusing performances. Romane Denis is fun and likable as perky rookie Libby. She’s extremely excited to be employed by CCC and wants to do a good job, gosh darn it! A role like this could be played wrong, with another actor portraying Libby as an idiot. Denis avoids this trap, and when things get bloody, we see her using her head. Just as entertaining is Brett Donahue as the alarmingly chipper Craig. He’s an excellent comedic villain who stares obsessively at the store’s security feed and plasters on a smile that’s just a little too big.
But why would you choose to watch this when there are prestige films like Minari you have yet to review?
Don’t taste-shame me! Besides, I hear Minari is amazing! This last week was rough for everybody, though, and I thought something silly might be just the thing.
At least you have enough taste and restraint not to end the review with a horrible pants joke.
You mean like, “I find it hard to put my pants into the dresser. Maybe I have a problem with hangar management?”
I swear to God, I’m going to have you fired.