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100 Ghosts: In Fabric, Directed by Peter Strickland, 2018

A bonkers horror confection set in a weird ersatz present / recent past which looks like something produced by aliens whose only references to British popular culture were Are You Being Served, the Witches, Eastenders and some very niche erotica. Based on the premise of a dress with murderous designs on whoever is unfortunate enough to end up wearing it, it is set largely in the very fictional department store Dentley and Soper. The shop floor is presided over by oddly goth garbed and bouffanted head assistant Miss Luckmoore (played with a sort of crazed professionalism by Fatma Mohammed) whose delightfully baroque sales patter borders on the incomprehensible. She persuades Sheila (Marianne Jean-Baptise) a put upon single parent and harassed bank teller to buy a flamboyant, silky red dress for a blind date, which oddly seems to accommodate any wearer regardless of size. Thus begins its reign of destruction, though you feel it’s just a continuation of the havoc it has wreaked before and will go on wreaking long after the film credits are finished. The film has a very unusual structure, being pretty much constructed in two distinctive acts, the second, once (predictable spoiler alert) Sheila has come a cropper, focussing on washing machine repair man Reg (Leo Bill), whose woes begin when he is forced to wear the dress at his stag do. The fabric the dress is woven from only becomes entirely clear in the closing scenes of this extraordinary black comedy, though there’s a bit of a massive hint in the shade printed in the catalogue (Artery). The squelchy electronica of the soundtrack by Cavern of Anti Matter perfectly complements the claustrophobic, cloying, hypnotism of the film and I couldn’t take my eyes (or ears) off it. I was sort of on a hiding to nothing even attempting this one, as the film itself and all attendant publicity materials are so beautifully designed, and I’m no graphic designer. I also couldn’t work out how to make it horrible enough for a long time and I don’t really think it’s horrible enough now. The film is currently on BBC iPlayer for about another week, and I would highly recommend a viewing. But don’t actually expect it to be anything like Eastenders.

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