Peter Strickland's Midnight Madness film about a cursed red dress is stylish, campy, retro fun
IN FABRIC MM D: Peter Strickland. UK. 118 min. Sep 13, 11:59 pm, Ryerson Sep 14, 8:45 pm, Scotiabank 4 Sep 15, 11:45 am, Scotiabank 11. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Likely the only film in TIFF history to ever feature a credit for “mannequin pubic hair,” Strickland’s retro thriller about a cursed red dress that causes its wearer to die is stylish, campy fun.
When a recently separated middle-aged woman (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) buys a dress during a department store sale, it gives her a rash, starts floating around restlessly at night and reacts badly to being washed.
Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio, The Duke Of Burgundy) drenches his film in genre excess – saturated colours, harpsichord-creepy score – while making droll statements about consumerism, dating and even workplace ennui.
The narrative swerve after the first hour takes some getting used to, but the scenes with Fatma Mohamed as a sinister sales matron who spouts bizarre maxims and has an intriguing nightly ritual make you forgive any shortcomings.