‘Slaxx’ Review: When Killer Jeans Attack!
By Daniel Rester
On a surface level, Slaxx might seem like a fresh horror idea at first. It involves a pair of jeans coming to life and killing employees in a clothing store. But there have actually been many horror films with inanimate objects coming alive and attacking people.
Recently there has been Rubber (2010), which involves a killer tire, and In Fabric (2018), which involves a cursed dress. You can also look back and find horror classics like Christine (1983), with a supernatural car, and Child’s Play (1988), with a possessed doll. A favorite among so-bad-it’s-good film lovers is Chopping Mall (1986), which contains violent security bots.
My point is that just making an inanimate object deadly is no longer intriguing or amusing by itself, if it ever was, because it’s actually quite common. There has to be more to go along with the absurd setup and it has to be executed well. Slaxx tries to layer in some messages, but unfortunately its execution is obvious and tiresome.
We follow Libby (Romane Denis), a typical shy new girl at a clothing store called CCC — which is managed by pretentious higher-ups. She joins her team one night to set up for the release of a new type of jeans in the morning. Unfortunately, a pair of jeans has other ideas as it starts picking off the employees. Libby and a few other workers try to survive and solve the mystery behind the jeans.
Slaxx has a colorful and polished look (the clothing racks really pop), acting that is better than expected, and a few wild gore scenes (and one wild neck snap). It never pretends to take itself seriously and moves quickly during its short 77-minute running time. The CGI on the jeans is also pretty believable throughout, though some moments look rough. Watching jeans slurp up blood is something I never thought I’d see, but visual effects wizards made it possible.
Co-writer and director Elza Kephart has these good pieces to work with, but Slaxx never comes together as a satisfying whole. The script by Kephart and Patricia Gomez takes easy satirical stabs at American consumerism, toxic and hypocritical corporate work, and child labor. The twist of the film, which involves spoon feeding these messages, is handled clumsily and with too much exposition (hint: a child worker is involved). I’m totally for the mission of the film in how it is pointing out the disgusting nature of corporate labor, but the filmmakers take the easiest and least subtle path imaginable in delivering their agenda after launching off of the fun setup.
Further, there are no interesting characters to fall back on when the story isn’t working because everyone is contrived to be a type. And moments meant to be inclusive actually come across more as racist and stereotyping. For instance, a character named Shruti (Sehar Bhojani) is Indian, so of course she has to dance to Bollywood music at some point. Yawn.
Slaxx would have worked better as a gory and goofy 30-minute short. At 77 minutes, it has its moments but the “killer jeans” novelty quickly wears off and everything else is too routine. Kephart’s film isn’t bad enough for the so-bad-it’s-good film lovers but it also isn’t good enough for regular audiences because it doesn’t escape an obvious treatment of its absurd premise. Instead it sits in the average column, which is unfortunate because one would think a film about killer jeans wouldn’t be so forgettable. At least we still have Chucky from Child’s Play and the title car from Christine.
My Grade: 5.5/10 (letter grade equivalent: C+)
Running Time: 1h 17min