Slaxx (2021) rinses the fun out of killer couture.
Canadian horror SLAXX might introduce a goofy high-concept new cinematic serial killer – a homicidal pair of possessed designer jeans – but the whacky high concept hijinks never quite hit the catwalk they’re looking to strut their stuff on.
When a possessed pair of jeans begins to kill the staff of a trendy clothing store during an overnight lockdown in advance of a product launch, it’s up to Libby (Romane Denis), an idealistic young sales clerk, to find a way to stop its bloody riot.
There’s no resisting the appeal of the ludicrous premise, which is fertile ground for a savage satire of the fashion industry and commercialism in general but it’s let down by a tonal approach – and a score – which sees the film as a serious anti-fast fashion polemic. Yes, there’s a lot to unpack and critique around the fashion industry and its exploitation of workers in developing countries but – like GREED before it – in all the fury it forgets to have enough fun with it.
Aside from Libby, none of the characters presented are particularly likeable or engaging and while many of the roles are there to skewer the perceived vacuity of the retail fashion industry, the performances feel too restrained and earnest when they really need to be bigger and lean knowingly into the absurdity more.
While the human cast may underwhelm, the jeans themselves are a triumph of puppetry and special effects. Some of the kills are pretty fun, too (although the best of the film is already available as a default gif on Twitter) but SLAXX still struggles to develop momentum due to its – admittedly admirable – commitment to putting the individual and social inequities of the clothing industry at the bleeding heart of the couture carnage unfolding.
Despite its delightfully tongue-in-cheek premise and comic potential, SLAXX ends up being quite a dark and dour film with a serious message that comes unravelled because of its unwillingness to lighten up and have a bit more fun.