Friday Flicks December 6: “I See You” & “In Fabric”

M.V. MoorheadDecember 9, 2019
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At Harkins Arizona Mills:

I See You—Helen Hunt lives in a gorgeous waterfront home in an affluent Ohio neighborhood. But she’s seriously in the doghouse with her police detective husband (Jon Tenney) and even more so with her enraged teenage son (Judah Lewis) over a recent affair. Weird, seemingly supernatural things are happening in the house, and in the community, where adolescent boys have gone missing.

This brooding thriller manages a polished look on what was likely a pretty tight budget, with supple, flowing camera movement, much of it in sweeping aerial views, underpinned by growling, groaning music. About midpoint, the story resets itself at the beginning, and we see the same creepy goings-on from a different point of view.

My confidence that director Adam Randall and writer Devon Graye would be able to make sense of it all was, I must admit, pretty low. But sure enough, by the end it all comes together, however implausibly. I See You is an impressive exercise in precision plotting.

It’s also pretty creepy; in particular, a figure prowling around wearing a pop-eyed, morose frog mask might just turn up, unwelcome, in your dreams.

At FilmBar, Harkins Valley Art and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Gilbert:

In Fabric—If I See You isn’t enough macabre freakiness for the weekend, you might check out this Brit creepshow. Writer-director Peter Strickland works self-consciously, and with tongue firmly in cheek, in the manner of an earlier era of “mod” European horror flicks; a dash of ‘70s-vintage Hammer Films here, a pinch of Mario-Bava-style giallo there.

Marianne Jean-Baptiste stars as Sheila, a bank teller, separated from her husband but living with her son and his insufferable girlfriend. Preparing to stick her toe back into the dating scene, Sheila goes to a store holding a sale and buys a red dress from a beautiful, impeccably stylish saleswoman (Fatma Mohamed) who subjects her customer to absurd, metaphysical verbosity. In one of the movie’s best gags, Sheila just keeps asking practical questions in response to this high-flown cosmic blather, refusing to be sucked in. While Sheila goes on her dreary date, we see the sales staff of the store engaging in bizarre and unsavory rituals.

The red dress, as it turns out, has even more personality off than it does on; it owes something, maybe, to M.R. James. Eventually it passes out of Sheila’s hands and into the hands of a young dishwasher repairman, Reg (Leo Bill), who’s forced to wear it to his stag night, at which point Strickland shifts the tone of the film from almost straight-faced to full-on horror parody and social satire. Both Sheila and Reg run afoul, for instance, of a pair of appallingly upbeat but passive-aggressive bank officers (Julian Barratt and Steve Oram) that seem almost as strange as the fashion cultists at the store.

In Fabric is far less disciplined than the Hitchcockian I See You. But it’s also a looser and funnier ride while you’re watching it. Both have their merits, if you need a nasty little break from mainstream holiday movies, and relentless holiday festivity.


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