by Hope Madden
Does anybody remember those old Shrink to fit only you 501 jeans ads? They are creepier now.
Absurdism meets consumerism in co-writer/director Elza Kephart’s bloody comedy, Slaxx.
Brightly lit and colorful CCC clothing store—offering high priced garments that are sustainably sourced without sweatshops, GMOs, or any other unsightly thing—is on shutdown to prep for the 8am onslaught as their new line of jeans finally hits the market.
It’s not just any jeans. This denim adjusts to your body and makes you look even more glorious than you already do. And these jeans fit every single figure, from 5 pounds underweight to 5 pounds overweight. It’s a dream come true.
Also, they kill you. Their zipper might bite your hand off, the legs might slip around your neck like a noose, or the waist might just slice you in two.
Kephart is not the first filmmaker to animate bloodthirsty clothing. Peter Strickland’s 2018 treasure In Fabric followed a red dress wantonly slaughtering its wearers, while Yong-gyun Kim gave us murderous shoes in 2005’s The Red Shoes. And who can forget Martin Walz’s 1996 glory Killer Condom? (Well, no, they’re not clothes, but you do wear them.)
CCCis the type of trendy clothier that uses terms like ecosystem to define different sections of the store. Kephart’s message is that this kind of establishment is as dedicated to capitalism as any other form, and therefore it enslaves those working at the store, those working for the store before product makes it to their shelves, and even those who show up in hordes to purchase those wares.
Where Romero mainly pointed fingers at the hordes mindlessly drawn to stores like CCC, Kephart sees the villains as those perpetuating clean corporate hypocrisy. Still, it’s their customers and workers she murders—by the pantload.
Profoundly typical in its structure, Slaxx still has fun with its kills and characters. Romane Denis is likeably earnest as the teen on her first night at work, while Brett Donahue’s broad stroke sycophant boss fits into the general tone of the film.
Sehar Bhojani steals every scene as the cynical Shruti, but the jeans are the real stars here. Kephart finds endlessly entertaining ways to sic them on unsuspecting wearers.
Kephart can’t overcome tonal confusion once she and co-scribe Patricia Gomez uncover the source of the jeans’ power. The filmmakers are unable to balance the serious nature of this curse with the brightly colored bloodbath of the previous 80 minutes.
But it was fun while it lasted.