It seems like every month, someone releases another goofy B-movie. The “innocuous objects that become sentient killers” genre has boomed in recent years. Movies like Ginger Dead Man or Killer Sofa aren’t regarded as high art, but they can be vastly entertaining. Depending on your tolerance for cheap VFX, you may enjoy the onslaught of SyFy originals like Santa Jaws or Sharknado. Very rarely are these movies anything more than their ridiculous concepts. Yet, Shudder’s Slaxx, a horror film about a killer pair of jeans, injects some social commentary into its bonkers premise.
Slaxx takes place in an “eco-conscious and fair trade” clothing store on the eve of a product launch. The company wishes to keep these jeans out of public eye until the store opens in the morning. Therefore, the store goes into “lockdown”. The process cuts off cell service and locks the doors so no one can get in or out. What could go wrong?
As it turns out, a lot can go wrong, especially when a pair of pants gains sentience and begins to off people in gory and gruesome ways. The creativity of the kills are a strong suit, here. The jeans cut people in half at the waist, impale them on coat hooks, and sometimes simply devours them. (They also drink the blood of their victims, which is both hilarious and awesome.) The VFX that bring the monstrous pants to life are stellar–the jeans are never (unintentionally) humorous.
“Thank you for shopping at CCC and making a better tomorrow today.”
We witness all of this carnage through the perspective of Libby, a young woman whose first night on the job is unfortunately timed. Working at CCC appeals to Libby with progressive practices. Upon her arrival, the attitudes of her coworkers and managers dampen her spirits somewhat. But she manages to keep a smile on her face–at least until the killing begins. As the pants carry out their gruesome acts of violence, the true story behind the “progressive” brand reveals itself.
If you’ve ever worked retail, you’ll find a lot to relate to in Slaxx. It’s critique of retail culture is on point. From the managers spouting corporate lingo like scripture to the overworked employees, it hits on all fronts. When pants start killing people, the manager isn’t concerned with the safety of his employees as much as making sure it doesn’t affect his career prospects. It’s a biting satire that works really well, adding something extra to what could have been a cheesy B-movie.
The reveal in the third act brings awareness to fast fashion and where our clothes are actually coming from. Unfortunately, the zany, fun tone is sacrificed in doing so. The ending is quite dark for a film about killer pants. While the message is worthwhile, the twist may leave a sour taste in the mouth for some viewers. It still manages to bring quite a few laughs even in the grim final third, but it loses the nimble tonal balance of the first two acts.
“I’m so, like, totally excited I could just die!”
If Slaxx has one fault, it’s that it might be a little too ambitious for a movie about killer jeans, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Depending on your reaction to the bleak ending, it’s an entertaining film for its refreshingly brief 77-minute runtime. Director Elza Kephart knows when to get out before her concept runs out of steam. A movie about a sentient pair of jeans killing retail workers shouldn’t be this damn good. Kephart paces this movie perfectly and strikes a tonal balance that works more often than not.
Fans of cheesy B-movies will find a lot to enjoy in Slaxx. At times, it brings to mind the lunacy of the cult classic Chopping Mall, though it’s undeniably a better satire than that film. Even when the final act begins to buckle under the weight of the somber backstory of the titular pants, there is never a dull moment. One of the best Shudder originals yet, Slaxx is an anarchic shot of midnight movie madness.
Slaxx is now streaming on Shudder.
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