FrightFest 2020: SLAXX Review – Sharp Social Commentary In A Film About Killer Jeans
Starring Romane Denis, Sehar Bhojani, Brett Donahue, Kenny Wong
Directed by Elza Kephart
A horror film about a killer pair of jeans may seem like a ludicrous concept at first, but Slaxx actually manages to be unsettling, hilarious, and thought-provoking all at once. That’s not something we would often say, so once you look past the decidedly silly concept, there’s a great deal here to keep viewers invested.
Slaxx primarily takes place in a high end fashion store, with the murderous item of clothing menacing the staff as they work a night shift to prepare for the launch of a highly demanded new line of products in the morning. Romane Denis stars as Libby, a new staff member who begins to notice that something sinister is going on in the back of the store. When she discovers the mutilated corpse of one of her co-workers, her boss Craig (Brett Donahue) calmly tells her to keep quiet about it, as it may startle the others and hurt his chances of becoming regional manager. This is arguably the most shocking scene in the film, because his nonchalant reaction to such a horrific discovery serves as a stark reminder that there really are people in the world who will put their careers above everything else. You won’t know whether to laugh at this scene or be disgusted by it, but hey, Craig offers Libby a first month bonus for keeping the corpse a secret from the others, so clearly he’s not all bad.
Although the company which owns the clothing store in Slaxx claims to put ethics front and centre and even uses the catchphrase ‘making a better tomorrow, today’, we soon learn that they actually utilise shady and barely legal business practices in order to squeeze out as much profit as they possibly can. To make matters worse, aside from Libby’s level-headed colleague Shruti (Sehar Bhojani), most of the characters in Slaxx are depicted as shallow and self-absorbed narcissists who care more about fashion than actual serious issues affecting the planet. As director Elza Kephart described in the interview after the screening at FrightFest, she detests anything related to corporate culture, something which is clearly evident here. Who would have thought that a film about killer jeans would contain such razor-sharp social commentary?
Now obviously, this review needs to talk about the killer pair of jeans itself, and although we won’t give away spoilers, we will say that the possessed pair of pants was just about menacing enough not to venture into campy territory. While it was no doubt a little silly, it still gave us plenty of unsettling moments. Such as the way it wipes itself against bloodstains on the floor after murdering its victims, with the fact that it appears to be perfectly clean afterwards clearly demonstrating that it has abilities beyond simply squeezing and strangling whoever wears it.
Whether you choose to interpret it as a warning of the dangers of rampant consumerism or a horror comedy about killer jeans, Slaxx was certainly a memorable inclusion at this year’s FrightFest. It’s also probably the only film where you’ll see a sentient pair of jeans dancing to Indian music, which is truly a sight to behold.
Despite its decidedly silly premise, Slaxx proved to be one of the most thought-provoking films at this year’s FrightFest. If anything, its message of the dangers of rampant consumerism should make you think twice before buying more crap you don’t need.