Horror movies have been skewering big, nasty corporations for decades. Remember the Weyland-Yutani Coporation from the Alien franchise? Vincent Price foolishly thought he could escape death while his poor subjects perished at the hands of the plague in The Masque of the Red Death. Horror icons John Carpenter (They Live), Wes Craven (The People Under the Stairs), and Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2) all took turns exposing the horrors of capitalism. And just last year, Netflix release, The Platform, reminded us that greed isn’t good. Earlier in 2021, Shudder added Canuxploitation flick Slaxx, a horror-comedy about killer pants, to their streaming platform. Believe it or not, critics loved it.
Hip clothing outlet Canadian Cotton Clothiers believe in a better world. They believe in ethical labor practices and environmentally sound products. That’s why young, idealistic Libby McLean can’t wait to start her first shift at a CCC shopping mall store. And it’s also a big day as the clothing brand is just hours away from the launch of their new designer jean – the Super Shapers. According to their marketing, these are jeans that can automatically adjust their shape to fit your body. Unbeknownst to CCC and their staff, the Super Shaper can do a lot of other things. In fact, they have a life of their own and they’re not happy.
Slaxx Brings Its Admittedly Silly Premise to Life With Mostly Fun Results
Let’s address the elephant in the room. Slaxx is a movie about a pair of killer pants. And these pants don’t just tighten up around victims’ waits or mangle body parts with their zippers. No these pants stand up and move around. At one point, the pants even dance. Later in the movie, they wrap around a character’s neck and hang them. Either you can accept that premise or not. Admittedly, director Elza Kephart may stretch good will with just how much of an active role the pants play. Fortunately, Kephart also has a lot of fun with the premise and, as a result, open-minded audiences should find lots to laugh it. She finds plenty of creative ways to have her jeans mangle characters. Like the best horror comedies, the comic blood on the screen should prompt the right kind of howls.
Fortunately, Kephart has also has a lot of fun with the premise and, as a result, open-minded audiences should find lots to laugh at.
And Slaxx isn’t the first horror movie to bring inanimate objects to life. Tobe Hooper did it in the 90s with the dreadful, The Mangler, and the much better French horror-comedy, Rubber, featured a killer spare tire. What sets Slaxx apart from these movies is its dark satirical take on the subject. Specifically, Kephart and co-writer, Patricia Gomez, take some fun, snark bites at corporate culture and greed. Before Slaxx unfolds its killer jeans, its caricatures of shopping mall employees, middle management, and glib CEOs delivers frequent laughs. Moreover, Slaxx adds timely relevance by importing themes around the exploitations of Third World countries.
Slaxx Almost Loses Its Own Message But The Final Results Should Win Over Fans
Aside from its admittedly gonzo premise, Slaxx does runs into other problems. On one hand, Kephart and Gomez gleefully skewer Western capitalism’s exploitation of third-world laborers. But there’s a few artistic decisions that edge a bit too close to exploiting Indian culture later in the movie. That the movie regulates its only Indian character to a supporting role with no real pay-off doesn’t help either. At times, one has to wonder why Sehar Bhojani’s ‘Shruti’ wasn’t the main character or at least elevated in the movie’s final act. It’s a casting decision that uncomfortably hovers around the tired ‘White Savior’ trope.
Kephart also aptly balances the comic violence with the more serious moments and deeper questions.
But that’s a relatively minor quibble with a fun movie. In addition to plenty of silly fashion-inflicted gore, Kephart paces the movie well and keeps the story tight. As a result, there’s not much time to pause and consider the movie’s more goofy moments. Kephart also aptly balances the comic violence with the more serious moments and deeper questions. That’s a tough balance to maintain in this sort of movie. And Slaxx pulls it off. All the performances are equally fun. Maybe Bhojani’s character deserved more from the movie, but Romane Denis deserves credit for her winning performance as the naïve ‘Libby’.
Slaxx May Fall Short of Its Tomatometer Score, But It’s Still a Designer Horror Comedy
Is Slaxx really as good as its 96% Tomatometer score suggests? Not even close. And it’s not necessarily going to play well to larger audiences. But horror-comedy fans should find Slaxx to be a nice fit. Yes, the premise is silly and its actual presentation of the killer jeans even sillier. But if you can get over these small details, there’s a biting, clever satire here blended well with fun over-the-top gore. While the subtext isn’t original it’s no less relevant and Slaxx nails the concept. Certainly, it’s one of the funniest horror-comedy movies of 2021.
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