“Thank you for shopping at CCC and making a better tomorrow today.”
Killer Jeans. That’s the premise in this horror-comedy slasher that stars blood-hungry denim stalking the night crew at a trendy clothing boutique. Streaming on Shudder, Slaxx (2020) blends schlocky b-movie goodness with delightful comedy gore and some surprisingly sharp commentary. Directed by Elza Kephart and co-written with Patricia Gomez, this inherently silly concept develops into a fun ride that doesn’t wear out its welcome with this one-note visual gag.
It’s Libby’s (Romane Denis) first day at her dream job at CCC. The upscale boutique brands itself as eco-friendly fashion. It also just happens to be the night before Monday Madness, when their brand-new line of denim, the Super Shapers, will hit the shelves. When the group enters an overnight lockdown to set the store’s “ecosystems” (all too believable corporate-speak for departments seemingly organized by specific color that are likely to give retail workers flashbacks), the possessed pair of pants doesn’t waste any time getting down to bloody business.
When Libby discovers the dismembered corpse of a coworker, her manager Craig (Brett Donahue) urges her to keep quiet about the situation. After all, they have an influential fashion Youtuber to entertain and a store to organize. With an unknown killer on the loose and a manager more concerned with metrics than store safety, things go sideways quickly. Soon enough, the increasingly absurd deaths are rolling in.
The reveal in the second half of the film adds more depth to the story and wraps it up neatly. Given the satirical side of capitalism on display from the first few minutes, this reveal might not come as a surprise to viewers. Still, it works to tie the film together. While some might see it as a little heavy-handed, this film has a 77-minute run time and the tight pacing reflects that!
Slaxx is exactly the kind of film that the name suggests.
It’s campy, over-the-top, and filled with good old-fashion gore. The cinematography makes the most of the film’s minimal budget without looking cheap, focusing on bright colors and simple shots. Given that the film takes place almost entirely inside the store, it makes sense. The store is essentially a character itself. This odd combination of The Gap and Apple highlights the cultish fascination people have with certain brands. The inclusion of influencer culture drives home the point: we’ll buy just about anything if it’s marketed right.
Somehow Slaxx manages to fit a fashion montage, a Bollywood musical number, and a killing spree in its tight 77-minute runtime. In the spirit of b-movies, it goes heavy on the buckets of blood without relying on mean-spirited gore. The dismemberment manages to stay on the comedic side while still packing a punch. The story is straightforward and, even after we discover the origin of the killer jeans, there isn’t much ambiguity left.
The characters aren’t deep or memorable beyond a few funny quips and some entertaining retail stereotypes. Even our heroine Libby is largely a non-entity in the story. It’s Sehar Bhojani’s depiction of deadpan, no-nonsense Shruti that makes up for Libby’s bubbly naivety when the two women band together to uncover the truth about the possessed pants. Craig, the epitome of banal middle-management evil, is the most entertaining of the cast. When his self-serving demeanor comes out to play, it’s as entertaining as it is expected.
One of the best parts of the film comes down to the monster. With the use of practical effects and some imaginative puppeteering, the Super Shaper’s rampage plays out with some really clever camera work. While the deaths start out fairly tame–how would you expect a pair of pants to catch prey?–they become increasingly more innovated and bizarre. By the second act, the pants are a full-fledged character. This is thanks in part to the innovative design choices. The pants physically morph after each kill: the waistband becoming an open maw and the back pockets angling into delightfully angry eyebrows.
The bottom line: Slaxx is worth the watch! (Especially if you’ve ever worked retail during the holidays.)
Slaxx is a fun little indie slasher that doesn’t take itself too seriously. That’s certainly part of its appeal, especially when it comes to the performances of the main cast. Nothing here is new. However, the film is put together in such a way that it’s even more enjoyable once you know what’s coming. It’s heavy-handed in its commentary but given the short runtime, this doesn’t feel out of place. If you’re looking for a lo-fi popcorn horror flick, check this one out! You’ll never think of Bollywood dance numbers in the same way again.